Cooking with Tea

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013 by

Fall is official and our seasonal flavors are full of cinnamon, maple, pumpkin, and other things that are wonderful to cook with. My personal favorite is Pumpkin Chai, a beautiful blend of black, green, and herbal teas flavored with chai spices, caramel, and pumpkin. It smells so good I decided to find a way to eat it.

There are many ways to infuse foods with tea flavor, and I would like to try all of them. At the moment I’m too busy for a recipe that requires more than a few steps, so I decided to give a simple syrup recipe a try, inspired by the title. It is stupidly simple, and the end result is delicious and versatile. Here’s what you do:

  1. Brew a cup of strong tea. I used three teaspoons of the Pumpkin Chai in one cup of boiling water and let it steep for about five minutes.
  2. Strain the leaves and bring the tea to a boil in a small sauce pot.
  3. While the tea is boiling, add a cup of sugar and stir constantly for about two minutes. Syrup
  4. Let the mixture cool completely. Store in a container with a tight lid (a canning jar works great).

At room temperature the syrup will last about a week before it begins to crystallize. Refrigeration will extend the shelf life to about a month, probably longer, but chances are it won’t sit uneaten for that long.

What can you do with tea-infused simple syrup? Bake with it, poach with it, add it to an adult beverage, or drizzle it on whatever you want. I’m already planning a million variations on this theme.

Feeling under-challenged by simple syrup, I decided to keep going and make sundae sauce, adapting this recipe for wet walnuts, my favorite. I brought a half-and-half mixture of the simple syrup and maple syrup to a boil, along with the vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Then I stirred in chopped walnuts and let it cook for a few minutes. That’s all. Warm, on vanilla ice cream, it is mind-blowing. Warm, on pancakes, also mind-blowing. Cold, right out of the jar with a spoon, mind-blowing.


Have you tried cooking with tea? We’d love some recipe suggestions!