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Cooking With Tea and Its Health Benefits

Not many of us think about cooking with tea and its benefits to our health. Similarly, have you ever wondered “What can I make with tea”? First of all, I am very excited to share with you some delicious recipes tea inspired recipe ideas and in addition a few of its health benefits. Let’s introduce you to my friend, Jessie Dean, the owner and creative force behind the company Asheville Tea!

If you live in the Western North Carolina Region, stock up on her delicious tea blends around town! You can also order it online if you live elsewhere.

Health Benefits of Tea

First, let’s talk about a few health benefits from tea which include that they are rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. For instance, these healthy plant chemicals may provide some protection from cancer, heart disease, and stroke according to some research studies for people drinking between 1-8 cups a day.

Tea as an Ingredient

In addition to tea itself as a healthy ingredient, many herbal teas also contain a variety of herbs, spices and other ingredients including dried fruit, vegetables, and edible flowers contain additional antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which can provide additional health benefits.

Tea as Flavor Enhancer

These natural ingredients make tea as a seasoning and a natural flavor enhancer to foods! Furthermore, they can add a uniquely complex flavor to some of your recipes!

Here is my interview with Jessie and below the interview. I also have included two recipes using tea to flavor them so check them out also! And a short video with more information!

1. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) How long have you been making tea? What inspired you to get started and create your own tea company?

(Asheville Tea) I have been drinking and blending tea personally for many years. Being raised in the south meant that iced sweet tea was a part of almost every occasion, and then when I married an Englishman, I developed a love of hot tea as well!

Tea as an Alternative Beverage to Alchohol

I started exploring seriously blending tea when I was pregnant with our kids. Being able to create a tasty non-alcoholic beverages that I could enjoy was something exciting for me. This piqued my interest in creating my own blends and I began to create blends with ingredients grown in our local area.

2. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) How does living in Asheville inspire you in creating your product?

Asheville has such a strong craft beverage and farm-to-table culture that I ultimately became inspired by that to launch a business based on a farm-to-teacup model, using primarily herbs and botanicals that are sourced from our local and regional farms.

3. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) If you had to pick a favorite tea, which would it be and why? And what favorite food do you pair it with or is it best drank by itself?

(Asheville Tea) It is so hard to choose a favorite tea! I tend to have a favorite based on the time of day and/or the season. I drink a lot of black tea, iced and hot, and am really excited about our new iced tea and breakfast tea blends. I find that black tea pairs well with traditional tea time fare, like scones and shortbread, or with something savory like pistachios.

For instance, my all-time favorite summer meal is a glass of iced black tea with lemon, and a simple tomato and mayonnaise sandwich!

4. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) I know that you often use herbal flavorings to your tea. What is an herb that do you most often use in the kitchen? What do you make with it?

(Asheville Tea) Basil! I add a lots of basil in the kitchen, for pesto, tomato, and mozzarella Caprese, cocktails, iced tea garnishes and risottos. I also use a lot of lime and lemon basil in our tea blends, like the G & Tea and our upcoming new Hibiscus Lavender Lemonade. Basil is such a versatile herb and there are so many varieties with different flavor profiles, so I find it one of the most interesting herbs to experiment with.

5. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) Also, I would love more on what you said about tea being initially used to cook within China and a little bit of that history.

(Asheville Tea) It is really interesting! In a tea course that I attended, I learned in ancient China ingredients like ginger and other spices, rice, salt, orange peel and onions were cooked with tea. And it was served into a bowl as a broth making it a form of nourishment as much as a beverage.

6. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) What fun things you are doing with tea? Tell us about the tea garden at Franny’s Farm? What other local ingredients that you use?

(Asheville Tea) I have a small tea garden at Franny’s Farm that features several of the herbs and botanicals that we use in our teas. I also source the majority of our ingredients from local and regional farms, like Rayburn Farm, Pangaea Plants, Gentle Harmony Farm, Maple Spring Garden, regional Yaupon growers, and local wildcrafters. These fresh local ingredients then go into our tea blends.

Besides working with the growers above, we also work with local growers of Camellia Sinensis (the plant that is used for green, black, and white tea leaves) and hope to integrate local tea leaves into our blends as soon as we can.

We sell our tea blends at tailgate markets and retail shops around town and regionally. You can find some of these places on the Asheville Tea Company website.

Tea in Cocktails and Beer

7. Vine Ripe Nutrition: You mentioned working with local brewers to add your tea to beer.

(Asheville Tea) Besides, traditional tea-drinking, we try to use our tea in other capacities. For example, the Montford Rooftop has created a series of seasonal cocktails using our tea blends that are just incredible!  Also, Twin Leaf Brewery has created two small-batch beers with our tea. In addition, Fonta Flora Brewery is launching a collaboration tea-beer at the end of this month! This one will be available in cans as well, which is so exciting!

Classes Teaching About Tea

8. Vine Ripe Nutrition: Tell more about the upcoming cooking with tea class and other fun food projects that you are doing!

(Asheville Tea) We are also launching a series of Cooking with Tea classes which starts on September 20th and I am incredibly excited about it. First of all, the first class will be a partnership with Vine Ripe Nutrition and Ivory Road Cafe and Kitchen and will highlight both savory and sweet dishes made with teas and herbal tisanes.

Also, we also partner with Ivory Road Cafe and Kitchen for Sunday Afternoon Tea about once a month.

Our website lists all of the dates for these workshops and tea events. After these, we hope to continue to offer more tea events as well, like tea tastings and pairings, both at our new space and in collaboration with other local businesses. (end of interview)

How to Pick a Healthy Tea?

I hope by now, you see the connection between cooking with tea and its health benefits. Not only, should care be taken when choosing what to eat or even what supplements to purchase, but the ingredients in your tea also make a difference!

What are the safest teas to drink?

The healthiest tea brands to drink are those teas without heavy metals which are often unwanted by-products so do your research on them. In addition, some tea is even grown with pesticides. However, knowing your tea company and their philosophy is a great way to know that your tea is made from the same time as ingredients that you would want to eat.

Ways to Include Tea in Recipes

Also, you may have not given much thought to using tea with seasoning foods. Some easy ways to get started are brewing a weak tea to use in salad dressing and tea marinade for protein foods or vegetables.

Baking with Tea

In addition, you might be wondering “How do I bake with Tea”? You can experiment with different tea brews as some of the liquid in some of your favorite ingredients. For example for scones, muffins, cakes or cookies, you can add a tablespoon of tea and reduce the other liquid by a tablespoon. I love lavender cookies!

You may even begin to become more comfortable using dry tea in some of your recipes!

Tea Inspired Recipes

Here are some recipes using food that is prepared with tea, one includes cooking rice with tea. I also made popsicles with another tea blend.

Healthy Risotto Recipe
Cooking with tea and its health benefits, I love the green, red and yellow of this dish, it is as pretty as it is delicious and healthy.

Summer Risotto Made with Green Tea

You might be wondering if you can cook with green tea? Why certainly! ( Just don’t steep the tea too long see directions below, steeping too long will make it bitter.) Try this green tea-infused rice! This risotto was made with Asheville Tea Company’s G and Tea which is a green tea that includes lime basil, rosemary, lime peel, and juniper berries.

4 cups of G and Tea (careful to steep only about a minute or two with water between 140-185 degrees)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 ear of corn, removed off the cobb

1 medium, chopped tomato (seeded)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup chopped onion

1-2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Garnish with basil chiffonade and lime zest

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and then add the onion. Cook until soft and add rice to allow it to be coated in oil. Add salt, wine, and tea. Turn down the heat to low. When the liquid is almost gone add corn and tomato. Cook until the tea is absorbed and the rice is soft. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with basil and Parmesan cheese. In the picture, I also used nasturtiums for a garnish from my garden!

Asheville Tea Company Video

Finally, take a look at this video from Asheville Tea Company featuring the risotto recipe and at the end of the video Jessie, Jill and I have a chance to have some tea at the Ivory Road Cafe, a gourmet tea shop and cafe!

High Antioxidant Popsicles
Hibiscus Mojito Tea with pureed raspberries local honey made some
delicious popsicles.

Raspberry Hibiscus Mojito Popsicles

What could be easier, brew a cup of Asheville Tea’s Hibiscus Mojitos, puree some frozen raspberries and add some honey. Then it’s popsicle time!

Makes 6 popsicles

Popsicle molds

1 cup Hibiscus Mojito tea

1 1/2 cup raspberries

1/4 cup local honey

Follow directions to make Hibiscus Mojito tea and add honey. Allow to cool. Add raspberries in a food processor and process until smooth. Add mixture carefully in popsicle molds and freeze for about 7 hours. Pop the cover off of the popsicles and serve!

Final Words on Cooking with Tea

In summary, I hope that you enjoyed learning more about cooking with tea and it’s health business. I loved learning about all the interesting things that Jessi is doing with her tea blends and other projects. I am very excited to be partnering with both Jessie and Jill, the owner of Ivory Road Cafe for the Cooking with Tea class. For more information about tickets and directions, check out this link on Event Brite 

In addition, as an Asheville nutritionist, I love learning more about topics like cooking with tea and its health benefits. It is quite intriguing!

Thank you for stopping by to learn more about cooking with tea and I hope that you give these recipes a try! You can check out more of my other recipes and menu ideas on the Vine Ripe Nutrition blog. And remember, food is the best medicine of all!

Asheville Nutriitonist and Registered Dietitian
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