Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Daring Cooks November 2011 - Cooking with Tea

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

For this month's challenge I took up smoking. I'd had the idea of using tea leaves to smoke food floating around in my head for awhile, I can't remember where I picked it up. So when this challenge was revealed and the only requirement was to make something savoury with tea, I knew what I wanted to do.

I googled tea-smoked chicken and it came back with hundreds of recipes and suggestions, but many of them were based on a mixture of equal parts tea leaves, raw rice and brown sugar. The traditional approach is to use a foil-lined wok but I wanted to try it in our barbecue.

I have described my method and ingredients below, but it really extremely flexible and could be used in any sort of salad, or sandwich or ramen or pasta or whatever. The result was some perfectly cooked and very tasty chicken pieces, but the smoke flavour was very subtle and the tea flavour was non-existent. I think it would need a longer smoking time (at a lower temperature than I could achieve in our barbecue) to develop more flavour.

Tea-smoked chicken summer salad

For the chicken
4 skinless chicken thigh pieces
1/4 cup tea leaves
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick crumbled into pieces

Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat your barbecue on high for around 10 minutes.
Choose a robust baking tray and wire rack that will fit inside your barbecue.
Wrap the tray on both sides with a double layer of foil.
Combine the tea, rice, sugar and cinnamon and spread evenly inside the tray.
Place the tray inside the barbecue and wait until it starts to smoke
Place the chicken on the rack and then put the wire rack over the tea mixture in the barbecue.
Turn the heat down to low, close the lid of the barbecue and leave for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes I checked the temperature using a digital thermometer with a probe and it was good to go.

For the salad (to serve 2)
2 smoked chicken thighs, shredded
1/2 cos lettuce, shredded
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and sliced
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and dress as desired. I used just a little olive oil and balsamic.


  1. I'm intrigued with using the tea leaves to smoke - it looks (and sounds!) great. I'm adding it to my list of things to try :)

  2. I did a tea smoke too. Your salad looks wonderful. I will have to try it myself also. Great job!

  3. I've never smoked anything and I always assumed you needed special equipment to do it. I love how innovative you got with your method!

  4. Yum that salad looks so good! Great job!

  5. Yey - a fellow tea-smoker! I did tofu, although I did it on the hob in our kitchen and smoked the house out a bit! The chicken looks fantastic and the salad sounds yummy.

  6. I have to say I'm very intrigued by this idea except I don't have a bbq. I think yours turned out great and I love the idea of having it in a salad.

    - Heather at www.teawithmeblog.com

  7. I have not tried tea smoking before so I'm glad you did. I wonder why the chicken didn't taste much like tea? That's kind of disappointing. I would love to try smoking - maybe when I no longer live in a small apartment with neighbours nearby! Thanks so much for taking part in this month's challenge.