After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. The journey of the tea leaf began in ancient China from whence it made its way across the world -- and it's become an integral part of countless cultures along the way. Whether you consider a cup of tea to be a respite from a hectic day or an on-the-go caffeine boost there's much to learn about this small, but mighty, leaf.
Recipes Courtesy of Laurie Bell
Great Falls Tea Garden Genmai Vegetable Soup
Have you ever used brewed tea as a base for soup? It's convenient, easy and a perfect answer for vegetarians looking for a tasty but meat free stock. Use your imagination and culinary creativity to develop your own signature soup. But to get you started, here is one of my favorite combos.
6 cups brewed Japanese Genmai Tea
1 package fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
about 8 oz corn, frozen is fine
fresh baby spinach - about a 6oz bag
1 -2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 -2 tsp vinegar (I use rice wine vinegar but cider vinegar or other is fine)
a few grinds pepper (Szechwan, if you have it)
salt, if it needs it
Strain the tea before putting it in a stockpot, but save the leaves in case you want to add some at the end for interest. Keep your "tea stock" on a medium heat as you add the rest of the ingredients. (An egg slicer is a quick and easy way to slice mushrooms as the slices come out nice and even.)
Let everything heat through, taste and adjust seasonings and it's ready to serve!
You can add any veggie you like along with rice, or pasta, or beans, and turn this simple soup into a filling, complete protein meal. You can also add shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, etc (unless, of course, you want to keep it vegetarian). Or you can keep it simple like this recipe and serve it as an Asian style soup.
Altering the tea and other ingredients can change the flavor dramatically. Have fun experimenting!
Great Falls Tea Garden Smoky Tea Spiced Pecans
For each pound of pecans (or other nuts of your choice):
2 Tbsp Lapsang Souchong tea leaves (dry)
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 Tbsp sugar
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
Finely grind the dry tea leaves in a spice grinder. Once powdered the yield will be just over 1 Tbsp.
Mix ground tea leaves with all the other dry ingredients.
Whisk egg white in bowl until it looks like soapsuds. Add the water. Whisk to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients to this mixture. Whisk well. Let rest for 15 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and the flavors to blend together.
Set oven temperature to 300 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
When 15 minutes is up (do not wait longer than that or the mixture can separate) whisk mixture again briefly then pour over nuts. Coat as evenly as possible. Pour onto baking sheet. Put into preheated oven and immediately turn oven temperature down to 250 degrees. Bake for about 1 hour.
To test doneness, remove a few nuts from oven and let cool 3-4 minutes. Taste to see if nut is crisp. If not, test every 5 minutes until desired texture is achieved. After removing tray from oven, let nuts cool completely before attempting to remove from sheet and break into pieces. Store in airtight container.
Variations - substitute any flavor tea and/or spices to suit your taste.
For Example, use Great Falls Peachy Green Tea, plain salt and omit the cayenne OR Use Great Falls Fennel Chai, plain salt, and omit the cayenne but add ground cardamom.
Great Falls Tea Garden Tea Shortbread Cookies
2 Tbsp Great Falls Tea Garden Spiced Fennel Chai, dry (or tea of your choice)
2 oz slivered almonds
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 oz unsalted butter, softened to cool room temp.
1/3 cup sugar
Finely grind the dry tea in a spice grinder.
Finely grind the almonds in a spice grinder or food processor. (Be careful not to over process or it will turn into almond butter.)
Combine ground tea, ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt in bowl. Set aside.
In food processor, beat butter briefly. Add sugar and beat to mix well. Add dry ingredients and blend until just mixed and has somewhat formed a ball.
Turn out onto a piece of wax paper. Shape into a round to prepare for rolling.
Cover with another piece of wax paper and roll to desired thickness.
Cut into desired shape/s, place on baking sheet lined with parchment and bake in preheated 325 degree oven and bake 20 - 30 minutes, depending on size and thickness. Remove from oven. Let cool on baking sheet. Eat and enjoy!
Substitute your favorite flavor of tea and /or nuts in this recipe. You may also substitute ¼ cup cocoa powder for ¼ cup flour to make a chocolate chai or other chocolate flavored shortbread. Experiment!
Premium Loose Tea Brewing Suggestions
All teas are not created equal when it comes to measuring, water temperature and brewing time. Filtered water is best to prevent any chlorine taste in the brewed tea.
Most instructions for measuring tea state "1 teaspoon per cup." Generally, that works. However, to be more precise, one must take into consideration the density of the dry leaf. If the dry leaf has a lot of volume to it, like a white Pai Mu Tan, a heaping teaspoon should be used. However, if the tea is a fine cut such as a broken Orange Pekoe or even finer CTC (cut tear curl style), a shy to level teaspoon measure is more appropriate.
The question still remains when a set of directions says "cup" whether it refers to a standard measuring cup of water (8oz) or what a traditional teacup usually holds (6 oz).
So professionals tend to use a gram scale and generally measure out 2 grams of dry tea leaf for every 6 ounces of water, or 3 grams of dry tea leaf for every 8 ounces of water.
Proper water temperature and brewing time can be critical to a tasty cup of tea. Especially with green and some Oolong teas – if the water temp is too high and/or the brewing (steeping) time too long, the resulting tea can be quite bitter. Refer to the chart below and experiment to find the strength and brewing time you enjoy most with each style of tea.
General Water Temperatures and Brew Times
White 180 - 195 3 - 6 minutes
Green 170 – 180 2 – 3 minutes
Oolong 185 – 195 2 – 5 minutes
Black 205 – 212 3 – 6 minutes
Flowering 200-212 5 - 8 minutes
Herbals 205-212 3 – 6 minutes