I love cooking with tea. Tea can add a depth of flavor to many dishes from main dishes to desserts. It's also another way to get the goodness of tea into your and your family's body. One of my go-to favorites is Lapsang Souchong.
Lapsang Souchong (Zhengshan xiaozhong) is thought to be one of the oldest black teas produced. The distinct smokiness comes from the tea leaves being dried over pine fires, evoking campfires to many, and to me, London tea rooms. It has been popular in Great Britain for over 300 years; a favorite of royalty and Winston Churchill; part of the tea blend commonly known as Russian Caravan; and one of the 10 famous tea of China. Although there is no direct reference to it in Sir Arthur Conon Doyle's writings, it is popularly thought to be a favorite of Sherlock Holmes. Very few have a neutral response to this distinct tea -- you love it or you hate it! Here's the good news: you don't have to drink it to enjoy the wonderful smoky umami it can add to your cooking. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan (like me), the smoke adds a richness to soups such as Vegan French Lentil, Split Pea and Chili where ham or beef is commonly an ingredient.
Here is how I use Lapsang Souchong in my cooking. I keep a simple coffee grinder just for the use of grinding teas for rubs or for adding to a dish easily without steeping. Once it's ground, it's easily kept in a glass jar ready for use. I just do about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup at a time to keep it fresh. I will also make up a basic spice rub to keep on hand for grilling or oven roasting.
To added a smoky or roasted flavor to soup and chili, add about a tablespoon of the ground tea to the soup and adjust this based on the amount of the soup or chili you are making. Don't feel like taking the time to grind? Substitute 1 cup of steeped tea for 1 cup broth.
What favorite food of yours could be elevated with a roasted or smoky flavor?