This week, I am very excited to share with you some delicious recipes ideas using tea and share a few benefits of tea for our health. I also am happy for you to meet Jessie Dean, the owner and creative force behind the company Asheville Tea! If you live in the Western North Carolina Region, you need to stock up on these delicious blends around town! If you don’t live around here, you can order it online!
First, I wanted to share a few of those health benefits from tea which include that they are rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. 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. In addition, herbal teas that contain a variety of herbs, spices and other ingredients like dried fruit, vegetables and edible flowers would contain additional antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which would provide additional benefits.
Here is my interview with Jessie and below the interview are two recipes using tea for a summer risotto using the blend G & Tea and a raspberry popsicle using the Hibiscus Mojito.
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 most every occasion, and then when I married an Englishman, I developed a love of hot tea as well! I really started exploring with blending when I was pregnant with our kids, creating tasty non-alcoholic beverages that I could enjoy. And then my interest piqued after that to create blends with what was being grown in our local area. 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.
2. (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. One of my all-time favorite summer meals is a glass of iced black tea with lemon, and a simple tomato and mayonnaise sandwich.
3. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) I know that you often use herbal flavorings to your tea. What is herb that do you most often use in the kitchen? What do you make with it?
(Asheville Tea) Basil! I use a ton 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.
4. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) Also, would love more on what you said about tea being initially used to cook with in 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.
5. (Vine Ripe Nutrition) I would love to find out more of the fun things that you are doing with tea! Do you still have the tea garden at Franny’s Farm? What other local ingredients that you use? You mentioned working with local brewers to add your tea to beer. Tell me more about the upcoming cooking with tea class and other fun food projects that you have done or that are coming up!
(Asheville Tea) I do have a small tea garden at Franny’s Farm, featuring 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 wild crafters. These fresh local ingredients then go into our tea blends.
We are also working 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, and we have also now moved into a new tea blending space in West Asheville at 7 Brevard Road where our teas are available for purchase as well. It is also very exciting to see how our teas are used in other capacities. The Montford Rooftop, for example, 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, and Fonta Flora Brewery will launch a collaboration tea-beer at the end of this month! This one will be available in cans as well, which is so exciting!
We are also launching a series of Cooking with Tea classes, starting September 20th, which I am incredible excited about. These will be in 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. And, we 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. 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)
Summer Risotto Made with Green Tea
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 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 tea is absorbed and the rice is soft. Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with basil and Parmesan cheese. In the picture, I also used nasturtiums for a garnish from my garden!
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
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!
I hope that you enjoyed learning more 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
As an Asheville nutritionist, I love learning more about the health benefits of food. I am so glad you can by to read a little bit about tea and I hope that you give these recipes a try! Please check out some of my other recipes and menu ideas. Food is the best medicine of all!