We turn to tea to ease anxiety, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, and load up on antioxidants; no matter the issue, there's usually a brew that can help. So why not extract those same benefits for your meals? Such was the question on food editor Liz Moody's mind when she experimented with tea in the kitchen.
"One day, while drinking my 5 p.m. sweet rose tulsi tea, it occurred to me that tea was, essentially, flavored water," she writes for Mindbodygreen. "I use water, or a type of flavored water (broth), almost daily in my cooking—for my oatmeal, to cook my pasta in, for my quinoa, in my smoothies." Since this realization, she's infused chamomile tea into chia pudding, added some cold green tea into her morning smoothie, and used Earl Grey as a base for a chocolate milkshake. "The tea always added an incredible level of complexity, even to the simplest of dishes," she adds.
Flavors aside, green and oolong teas specifically contain powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that actually fight the free radicals associated with premature aging, cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Oolong is also a powerful detoxifier that can strengthen bones, boost gum health, slow the aging process, and even combat wrinkles, reports Ginger Chi.
Moody recommends cooking with tea in one of two ways: by infusing it into whatever liquid you're using, or grinding it up and tossing it into whatever meal you're making. For example, "Matcha is simply high-grade green tea ground into a fine powder. You can mimic this process with other teas … you [just] really want to make sure you're using quite a high-quality blend," she explains. "Simply take your tea and grind it in a blender, mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or clean coffee grinder. You can use the resulting powder like you would any spice.
Try it as a rub for pastured chicken, or toss some in your smoothie as a superfood booster."