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Relapse: Tea February 17, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Drinks, Fish, Relapse, Sweet things, Wolfe recipe.
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Relapse: An occasional series where I discuss several ways of preparing an ingredient.

I am a huge fan of tea. I like black tea and green tea and white tea and red tea! But my favourite tea of all is Earl Grey. I drink it plain, with no milk or sugar. Since I love the taste so much, I started to investigate different things to do with tea. As you can see, I’ve managed to construct a rather interesting menu…

Tea-based cocktail
How about a cocktail to begin? By infusing gin with the tea, a delicious base is created to use in cocktails, or even drink straight. To infuse the gin, use 4 tablespoons of tea per 700 ml bottle. Although it is probably sacrilegious, I find it easier to use teabags rather than loose leaf tea, as it avoids having to strain the gin at the end (I used 3 teabags for the bottle). Whatever tea you use, you need to let it infuse for around 2 hours – this is enough time for the flavour to permeate the gin without it going bitter. Here’s a time-lapse photograph of my gin infusing over the 2 hours:

As for the gin – apparently Tanqueray is best, but I have used Beefeater (as above) with great success. A higher alcohol percentage helps with the infusing process.

Anyway, once you have your gin – time to turn it into a drink! The most famous cocktail using tea-infused gin is the MarTEAni, which involves the tea infused gin, egg white, lemon juice and simple syrup. As I’m not a huge fan of eggwhites in cocktails, I decided to leave it out and make a mix of gin, lemon juice and spiced simple syrup.

This cocktail is amazingly easy to drink, with the tea flavour balanced by the lemon and the sweetness from the simple syrup. A great starter to our tea menu!

Tea-cured salmon
Next, the main course! Making gravlax is something everyone should try – it’s super easy and involves almost no effort! If you haven’t heard of gravlax, it’s salmon cured in sugar and salt. I generally follow this recipe, mainly because it’s the one I first found when I was interested in making it for the first time! When I saw this recipe on Serious Eats, I knew I had to try it. Gravlax combined with tea?! What more could be better! The recipe used jasmine tea so I thought I’d better stick to using that for the first time, although I have subsequently used earl grey tea which was very successful.

To start with, I brewed the jasmine tea leaves, drained the water, and left them to cool. I also prepared my sugar/salt mixture, adding a bit of black pepper too. When the tea leaves had cooled, I placed a bed of the sugar/salt mixture onto some plastic wrap, added the fish skin side down, then placed the tea leaves on top.

I used two pieces of salmon, sandwiching them together so the end package was of even thickness, and covered them in more salt/sugar before wrapping the whole thing tightly and placing into a container. I put the whole thing into the fridge for 5 days. You can generally cure gravlax from anywhere from 3-7 days; however, if you leave it the full week the flesh is very firm!

After the 5 days were up, I took it out of the container and rinsed all the tea and sugar/salt off. I decided to prepare the gravlax simply in a salad, so chopped up healthy chunks and added them.

The taste was wonderful, with the tea adding a delicate element to the flavour of the salmon. When I remade this again using earl grey tea, there was a hint of sweetness which balanced nicely with the salty fish.

Earl Grey Parfait
After a main course of salad, it’s time for dessert. I decided to make a version of the Nero Wolfe almond parfait, substituting the almond for earl grey tea. As when I made the almond version, I started with making a sugar syrup and beating egg yolks. I combined the two, and cooked them over a double boiler until thick. At this stage I added the tea, and stirred it until it was cool. Next, I whipped some cream and folded this into the egg mixture. I placed the whole thing in some little moulds I recently acquired, and put them in the freezer overnight.

This not perhaps the lightest dessert ever, but it is delicious. Again, I was struck by how delicate and distinctive the flavour was, this time enhanced by the cream and egg yolks in the mix. In all these recipes, I have been pleasantly surprised about how well the tea flavour has come through, and has not been dominated by the other ingredients.

Tea-flavoured shortbread
And to finish up, a couple of shortbread biscuits – flavoured with tea, of course! I have been a big fan of this recipe since I discovered it, and I can assure you it is absolutely infallible. I have made it with normal flour, with rice flour, with butter, margarine and nuttelex. Each time, with every combination, the biscuits have still turned out successfully.

And a cup of tea to go with the shortbread!

This time, they came out a bit cracked on top, which I think is because I made them with rice flour for a coeliac friend. I have always used earl grey tea when making these, but I think you could substitute any black tea easily. They are crumbly and delicious, with the citrus adding a nice contrast to the tea flavour.

When I started to think of things to make using tea, I was surprised at the versatility of this ingredient used primarily for, well, drinking tea. I am keen to experiment with other types of teas to try the different flavours and combinations available. And I ever get stuck, I will be sure to have a sit down with a nice cup of tea and think it over!

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Comments»

1. Adelaide - February 17, 2011

Speaking as the reason for the nuttelex version?

They are delicious :)

2. Teena - February 18, 2011

the cocktail sounds particularly interesting :)
I’m not the biggest gin fan (except Bombay Sapphire & tonic with limes ..mmmhm.) but will soon give it a shot..
gone back drinking lots of green tea over the last 2 months (partially substituting coffee), and have experimented with flavours, ginger in particular :), cooking or baking with it is rather new. BUT I’ve recently come across recipes for Chinese tea eggs. dying to try, intriguing to say the least.

inspiredbywolfe - February 19, 2011

Even if you don’t love gin, when it’s infused with tea, it’s very very addictive! The gin taste mellows, and it’s scarily drinkable. I’ve not made the chinese tea eggs but agree they sound very interesting. Let me know how you go if you try them!


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