These authors crack wide open the amazing world of tea in their new cookbook Culinary Tea: More Than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World by Cynthia Gold & Lise Stern.
Tea is anything but the bags packed in cardboard boxes you buy in grocery stores. That pallid version misses the aroma, fragrance, color, and integrity a good tea has. In fact, if you walk into a Chinese supermarket you will see teas kept under lock and key behind glass doors, some hundreds of dollars a pound. It is this world of tea that has always fascinated me and brought me quickly to this wonderful cookbook.
One of the authors, Cynthia Gold, is a tea sommelier at The Boston Park Plaza Hotel. I had never heard of a tea sommelier! So cool. And the other author, Lise Stern, is a foodie and food writer. Together they created a masterly cook book of over 100 recipes using tea, as well as a compendium of the history of tea, bound together with luminous photography.
They even explore the many different types of teas, their flavor and aroma profiles, and how to steep tea.
"White teas are the least processed teas, and in certain ways remain the closest to the original fresh tea plant."
"Lapsang Soughong: This earthy tea is smoked with pine needles, giving it a distinctive smoky, tarry flavor that is sometimes an acquired tasted. It is very well suited to cooking and will impart its characteristic smokiness into a dish---without needing to actually smoke the food."
Fascinating! I snuggled down into a comfy chair with a freshly brewed cup of tea and kept reading.
"Creating home blends of tea is another aspect of culinary tea. You can combine a variety of teas, as well as non-tea ingredients such as spices, flowers, herbs, and dried fruits to create personal signature tea blends that you can use for both sipping and for cooking."
I decided not far into the book that I absolutely loved it. There are so many things I want to try, that I started to make a list: Tea Marbled Eggs, Jasmine Dumplings, Earl Gray Cream Tea Cake, Chai Ice Cream, Tea Toffy with Tea Smoked Salt, Salmon in Black Tea-Coconut Sauce.
I am going to share with you the first recipe from the book I am going to try. It is for Oolong Mayonnaise. I see it generously slathered on home made bread for an intriguing turkey sandwich. I can't wait!
Makes 2 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons loose-leaf oolong tea leaves
1 tablespoon chopped dried cranberries
1 cup steaming water (about 185 F/85 C)
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 cups canola oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine tea and cranberries in a bowl. Pour the steaming water over them and steep, covered, for 3 minutes. Strain the tea. Discard the liquid and reserve the leaves and berries and let cool, about 15 minutes. When cool, coarsely chop the tea leaves and berries.
2. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the eggs, yolk, ginger, and rice vinegar. Process to combine. With the processor running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube over the course of about 2 minutes. When all the oil has been emulsified stop the processor and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the cooled, chopped tea leaves and berries to the mixture in the food processor and continue processing for another minute. Scrape the bowl, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue processing for 30 seconds more. The chopped tea leaves will produce a mayo that looks like tartar sauce---but it will taste infinitely more interesting.
3. Use, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Culinary Tea: More Than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World by Cynthia Gold & Lise Stern