Healthy Kitchen Hacks: Cooking with Tea

Healthy Kitchen Hacks: Cooking with Tea | Food & Nutrition Magazine | Volume 9, Issue 4

The second-most consumed beverage on the planet, tea provides antioxidants that may be associated with health benefits and delivers tastes ranging from fruity to floral to smoked. Go beyond a cuppa with these Healthy Kitchen Hacks to use tea in recipes.

Flavor Power

Think of loose tea leaves as dried herbs and your mind will open up to all kinds of ingredient possibilities. These tea varieties are the most common and deliver distinct flavors:

Black: The most caffeinated variety, black tea delivers very robust and full-bodied flavors ranging from malty to cocoa.

Oolong: A slight step down in caffeination, oolong or “black dragon” tea can still be bold but tends to taste sweeter and has toasty notes.

Green: With less caffeine than darker varieties, green tea provides earthy, grassy and slightly bitter notes.

White: The most delicate of teas and low in caffeine, white tea tends to have a light, smooth and honey-like taste.

Herbal/fruit: Containing little or no caffeine, these “teas” are not sourced from tea plants but rather from fruits, herbs and flowers that, when dried, provide an array of flavors such as floral, lavender, citrus and berries.

Tea-enhanced Recipes

Steep for breakfast. Simmer a pot of milk with a few tea bags such as chai, peach or Irish Breakfast. Steep for a few minutes, remove the bags, then use tea to prepare oatmeal or make a milk steamer. Freeze any extra tea milk in ice cube trays to make smoothies blended with fruit and yogurt.

Infuse cooking liquid. For savory dishes, simmer water with lemon, orange blossom or chamomile tea to create a fragrant broth for cooking whole grains or beans such as quinoa, brown rice or chickpeas. Use more robust teas like oolong or Earl Grey as a base for heartier dishes such as chili or stews.

Make it meatless. Dried over burning pine, lapsang souchong is a black tea with strong smoky flavor, ideal for vegetarian versions of cured meat dishes. To create flavor similar to bacon, pancetta or sausage, steep a few tea bags in the cooking liquid for beans or grains to make meat-free paella, baked beans or hearty soups.

Zip up dressings. Herbal and fruit teas add delicious flavor to homemade dressings and vinaigrettes. Whisk ¼ cup cooled brewed tea or 2 teaspoons dry loose-leaf tea such as jasmine, berry or mint with ⅓ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey and ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard. Pour over fresh leafy greens or roasted vegetables.

Make a marinade. The tannins in tea act as a natural tenderizer, making it ideal for meat or poultry marinades. Brew 2 cups black tea such as Darjeeling. Once cooled, mix with ¼ cup lesssodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 2 teaspoons canola oil. Add chicken, pork or steak and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour before cooking.

Mix in the matcha. This green tea powder adds a slightly sweet, fresh flavor to a host of foods (not to mention a gorgeous shade of vibrant green). Sprinkle ½ teaspoon matcha over chopped tropical fruit such as mango, pineapple or banana, shake over avocado toast or mix into vanilla yogurt for a parfait.

Enhance desserts. From delicate to robust, just about any variety of tea can enrich sweet treats. Steep hibiscus or vanilla rooibos tea in milk, then use it to make custard or rice pudding. Using a food processor, pulse chai tea leaves into a powder to put in sugar cookies or banana bread. Matcha powder also is a tasty addition to any type of ginger or lemon dessert like gingerbread or lemon bars.


Bolton D. Tea Consumption Second Only to Packaged Water. World Tea News website. Published May 1, 2018. Accessed September 8, 2020.

Deanna Segrave-Daly and Serena Ball on Facebook
Deanna Segrave-Daly and Serena Ball
Deanna Segrave-Daly, RDN, is a food-loving dietitian based in Philadelphia and co-owner of Teaspoon Communications, LLC. She blogs at Follower her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Based in St. Louis, Serena Ball, MS, RD, is a food writer and owner of Teaspoon Communications. She blogs at and produces bi-weekly Facebook LIVEs. Serena co-created She is happiest in her aqua-blue kitchen baking bread. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.