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The Secrets of Tea Cooking - Rivertea Blog

The Secrets of Tea Cooking

| On 02, Feb 2013

Tea is a beverage which can easily transform itself into an important food ingredient. Discover how tea cooking can become part of your daily routine. We also want to share with you three great traditional recipes containing tea we are sure you will be curious to try.

Tea is amazing not only because of its health benefits and flavourful blends and varieties, but also because of its amazing ability to turn into a highly delicious food ingredient. For centuries tea has been used in many ways: as a medicine, as a beverage, as diuretic, as energy booster and now we are talking about actual delicious tea recipes, not of the beverage, but of solid food.

If you have planned to start your year by increasing tea consumption and five cups per day aren’t what you would call “your cup of tea”, you can very easily start cooking delicious recipes using tea as one of the key ingredients. Chinese and Japanese have used tea as the perfect food ingredient for hundreds of years. Now more and more people that appreciate a healthy lifestyle enjoy tea food, so here are some useful tips about how to easily incorporate tea in your daily cooking routine.

Tea, the Perfect Secret Ingredient for Your Food

The first step in using tea as a food ingredient is to choose the type of tea you will use according to the aroma and taste you want to obtain for the dish. It is highly important to pair the tea flavor with the recipe you planned to cook. To achieve this selection you should find out what are the main tea varieties and which flavor profile each tea variety features.

There are thousands of types of teas in the world, each featuring a different flavor and aroma, but there are some generalisations that can be made about the tea flavor profiles. These general tea tasting notes can be helpful reference points for understanding flavors, but don’t get limited only by these, there are still many more tea flavors out there. In this table you will find the main tea varieties and their specific aroma profile to help you choose the perfect tea for your cooking.


Roasted Green Tea Flavors Steamed Green Tea Flavors White Tea Flavors Oolong Tea Flavors Black Tea Flavors
Nutty Seaweed Floral Melted butter Malty
Floral Lemon zest Fresh-cut hay Fresh muschroom Pungent
Melons Vegetal Sweet Brown sugar Smoky
Vanilla Newly cut grass Wheatgrass Fruity Citrusy
Bamboo and other wood Floral Honey Floral Earthy

7 Tips for Using Tea as Food Ingredient

Aroma, choosing the perfect tea variety, flavor profile and so on, these are the very first steps in cooking the perfect tea meal. I must say it’s a challenge to incorporate tea as an ingredient in your favorite dishes, especially if you’ve never done that before, but after reading the tips below, be sure that you will be the tea chef in your family.

# 1. The simplest way to use tea in any kind of recipe is to replace water you usually use in cooking with tea.

# 2. Another simple and effective way to use tea in your habitual cooking is to add powdered tea as a spice, garnish or partial replacement of flour.

# 3. Melt solid ingredients like butter or chocolate for desserts with brewed tea instead of hot water.

# 4. Replace with tea the milk or other liquids you usually use in your cooking.

# 5. You can smoke the meat using whole tea leaves

# 6. When steaming different kind of ingredients like rice, fish or vegetables use tea leaves with the water.

# 7. You can marinate meat with brewed tea.

Top 3 Traditional Tea Recipes

Well as I previously mentioned tea has been around for hundreds of years and it has been used in a multitude of ways, including cooking. The traditional food recipes we want to show you are easy to prepare and come from China, Japan and Ireland which we can without mistake call the top tea loving countries of the world.

Chinese Smoked Duck

The first recipe is the Chinese tea smoked duck. For this recipe you need Chinese black tea leaves, a medium weight pound duck, salt, a tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns, rice, brown sugar, soy sauce, a tablespoon of cornstarch, aluminum foil and four cups of oil.


After cleaning and washing the duck, dry it thoroughly with a paper towel. The next step is to rub the duck both inside and outside with salt, after which you need to sprinkle it with peppercorns. Wrap it in the aluminum foil and put something heavy on top of it. It needs to be refrigerated overnight.

The next day, the duck must be placed on steamer tray for about an hour and a half, after removing the aluminum foil. On the foil removed place the tea leaves, half a cup of rice, and brown sugar. Place a rack above this combination of ingredients and put the duck on the rack, with the breast upwards. Cover it and seal to prevent smoke from escaping.

Turn on high heat and roast the tea mixture until it smokes. Smoke duck 10 minutes on high heat and another 10 minutes on moderate heat. After turning off the heat, leave it like that for about 20 minutes. After removing and cooling the duck, rub it with soy sauce and sprinkle cornstarch on it. Heat the oil in wok and deep-fry the duck 5 minutes for each side. After removing it you can drain it on paper towel and voila! Bon appétit!

Japanese Tea Soup

This soup is known as “ochazuke” which would literally translate as “submerging tea”. This is a traditional Japanese dish which we can actually call “Japanese fast food” as the time of preparation ranges from 4 to 5 minutes. This recipe combines sencha green tea, steamed rice and an assortment of other ingredients, such as vegetables or fish. The vegetables or fish can be used according to personal preferences and personality.


For two servings you need a cup of steamed rice, it is better if you use sushi rice, but you can use brown rice as well. You also need one cup of brewed sencha green tea and assorted toppings depending on your own taste, mushrooms, vegetables or tofu. If you’re a fan of seafood, you can use it as well.

The cooking of the dish itself is pretty easy. You just have to place the rice into a bowl, add hot tea and the final step would be adding the fish or vegetables or maybe both, it’s your own choice and seasoning the final product to your taste.

Irish Bram Brack

This is a Halloween recipe which is supposed to contain a ring in its composition, a ring wrapped in greaseproof paper. Whoever finds the ring in their slice of the dish is believed to be getting married within a year.

For this traditional Irish dish which speaks of marriage to those who taste it, you will need two cups of mixed dried fruits, one cup of boiling black tea, one egg, mixed spice, orange marmalade and sugar. The preparing of this dessert dish starts with letting the fruits soak in the hot tea overnight.


The next day starts with preheating the oven at around 190 Celsius degrees. You should use a square pan. The next step is to add the rest of the ingredients to the soaked fruits and mix well all the ingredients. Pour the mixture in the pan and let it in the oven for about one hour and a half. The bram brack can be enjoyed with a nice cup of tea in the sweet Irish way.

We hope we have convinced you to at least try cooking with tea. It is amazing how revolutionary a vegetal drink of water and leaves can turn into a secret recipe ingredient adding taste and aroma to a dish. Do tell us if you have ever tried cooking with tea and maybe you’ll even like to share your own personal secret recipe with us.


We’ll soon launch our new incredible tasty tea blends. Join us, there are lots of special gifts waiting for you.