Spicing Things Up… with Tea!

by Ashleigh Ling

Have you ever thought about spicing up your recipe, but don’t know how?

Believe it or not, there’s more to a tea bag than flavored powder. Tea bags, depending on the kind of tea you choose, contain small tea leaves responsible for most of their flavor and are sometimes mixed with a variety of herbal plants, flowers, and weeds.1 Some popular ingredients that are usually found in teas include ginger root, lemongrass, chamomile, mint leaves, and parsley.

These different ingredients come together in a small pouch and not only make a great warm drink for a cold November day, but can also act as pre-measured and pre-chosen spices for one of your recipes at home! For the cleanest tea bags, organic loose tea bag brands like Numi or Traditional Medicinals are the best choice in terms of wellness.2

Cooking with Tea

Tea bags can be added to your recipe in a number of ways 3:

  • In a Broth: Dragon Well green tea and Lapsang Souchong black tea are best used for stock in a broth. Simply soak the tea bag(s) in boiling water (1 tea bag per C. of water), and when the leaves are completely infused, you can drain your leaves or keep them, and add your additional foods to create a delicious soup!
  • Infusing with dairy: To add a hint of sweetness to your creamy sauce, put a tea bag in your starting milk or cream mixture and heat it to a simmer. Remove the sauce from heat and strain all the tea leaves and milk solids from the pot and follow the rest of your recipe. Grassy Sencha serves as a good choice to season béchamel sauce.
  • Using as a rub: Add your tea leaves to your usual rub on any pork, steak, chicken, or any other meat to enhance its flavor by opening the tea bag and mixing its contents in. Earl Grey tea leaves give a kick to juicy filet mignon.
  • Flavoring stir-fry: Genmaicha, a tea with a roasted and nutty green tea flavor, is perfect for spicing up your own stir-fry mixture of rice, vegetables, and meats. Simply open the tea bag, add the tea leaves to your stir-fry recipe and embrace the deliciously toasted leaves along with the nutty taste of your sautéed veggies.


  1. What’s in your teabag? International Barcode of Life. http://ibol.org/whats-in-your-teabag/#. Accessed 12 Oct. 2018.
  2. EAT CLEAN STAY LEAN: TEA. Prevention, Jan. 2016, p. 052. Health & Wellness Resource Center, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A444827803/HWRC?u=udel_main&sid=HWRC&xid=836960a7. Accessed 12 Oct. 2018.
  3. Bilow, R. 7 Unexpected Ways to Cook with Tea, from Pasta to Pudding. March 16, 2015. Bon Appétit. https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/article/how-to-cook-with-tea. Accessed 12 Oct. 2018.
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