(Family Features) Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. In fact, on any given day, more than 158 million Americans drink tea. Approximately 85 percent of tea consumed in America is iced, but the soothing and refreshing flavors of tea can also infuse fresh and unexpected character into a wide range of dishes, from desserts to popular finger foods like chicken wings.
What's more, tea has been shown to have significant health benefits. As green, black, oolong and white teas all come from the Camellia sinensis plant, tea drinkers can reap the health benefits from whichever tea they prefer. The major bioactive compounds in tea, called flavonoids, are also found in fruits and vegetables but appear in very high concentrations in tea. In fact, new research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition links tea with cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, weight management, improved concentration and bone health, among others.
Delightful Tea Pairings
Each type of tea has a distinct set of flavor characteristics. Peter Goggi, President of the Tea Council of the USA, explains the flavor profiles of black, green, oolong and white teas, and how to pair them with your favorite foods.
- Black teas from traditional origins such as India, Sri Lanka and China, as well as English and Irish breakfast varieties and flavored black teas such as Earl Grey, are characterized by a strong, aromatic flavor. These teas pair well with dark chocolate, sharp cheeses, eggs, meats and heartier foods because of their rich flavor and tannin levels.
- Green teas, such as Sencha and Jasmine, have a more delicate flavor profile, characterized as grassy or citrusy, and pair well with subtly flavored foods, such as seafood, rice and vegetables.
- Oolong teas, such as Wuyi Shan and Pouchong, are characterized by a slight smoky flavor and a sweet, nutty finish. These teas pair well with spicy or smoky foods, seafood dishes and fruit.
- White teas exhibit a natural sweetness and lightness; the subtle flavors pair well with mild tasting sweets or simple salads that don't overpower the flavor of the tea.
Start sampling the many flavors of tea with these recipes, and visit www.TeaUSA.org for information about the role of tea in a healthy diet and lifestyle.
(chicken wings and gazpacho photos)
Photo courtesy of Steve Legato
(iced tea photo)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Recipe: Tea-Grilled Chicken Wings with Hot Green Dipping Sauce
- 5 tablespoons black tea leaves, divided
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water (212°F)
- 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (such as Nam Pla)
- 3 tablespoons Asian chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 18 large chicken wings, washed and dried
- Place three tablespoons tea leaves into small bowl and add boiling water; steep six minutes. Strain tea and discard used tea leaves. Cool to room temperature and hold.
- In spice grinder or with mortar and pestle, finely grind remaining tea leaves to dust. Transfer to medium stainless or glass bowl, along with soy sauce, fish sauce, chili sauce, oil, garlic and pepper. Mix well. Pour in reserved cooled tea and mix.
- Cut off tips of chicken wings. Cut wings into two parts at joint, place in resealable plastic bag and pour tea-based marinade over wings. Seal well and mix to coat completely. Refrigerate overnight before preparing, turning bag every 12 hours.
- To cook, remove wings from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Remove wings from bag and discard marinade. Drain very well.
- Preheat grill to medium. Grill wings until cooked through on both sides and juices are running clear, about six to eight minutes per side.
- Serve Hot Green Dipping Sauce on the side.
Recipe: Tea-Grilled Chicken Wings with Hot Green Dipping Sauce
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2-4 jalapenos, seeded and deveined
- 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Place basil, cilantro, jalapenos and vinegar in bowl of food processor. Pulse until smooth. With motor running, slowly pour in oil until smooth and incorporated. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, scrape down sides of bowl and pulse again. Place in covered container and chill until ready to use.
Recipe: Jasmine Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab
- 2 tablespoons loose-leaf Jasmine tea leaves
- 3 cups steaming water (175°F)
- 4-5 cups watermelon, peeled, seeded and chopped (1 small melon)
- 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons jalapenos, seeded, deveined and chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup lump crab meat
- 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- Sprinkle tea leaves into medium-sized bowl. Pour steaming water over leaves and steep, covered, for two minutes. Strain tea, discarding leaves. Cool and hold.
- In blender, combine watermelon, onion, mint, cilantro, basil, jalapeno and garlic, and puree. Transfer to container and stir in reserved tea until combined thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least six hours before serving.
- To serve, ladle one cup soup into bowl and garnish with one tablespoon crabmeat and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, drizzled.
Recipe: Refreshing Iced Tea
- 1 quart fresh, filtered water, cold
- 8-10 black or green tea bags
- Bring filtered water to a full boil in teapot. Remove from heat and add 8-10 tea bags per quart. Steep for three to five minutes and pour over ice cubes or into additional cold water, based on desired taste.
- To serve, pour into tall glasses filled with ice; garnish with lemon or mint and sweeten as desired.
Recipe: Darjeeling Tea Bark
- 1 pound finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground or crushed Darjeeling tea leaves
- Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone baking mat.
- In top of double boiler over low heat, melt chocolate, stirring frequently, until 3/4 chocolate pieces are melted, only slightly warm to the touch. Remove pan from heat.
- Stir in tea leaves; continue stirring until chocolate is melted and tea is evenly distributed.
- Pour mixture onto baking sheet and spread evenly to 1/8-inch thickness. Let come to room temperature, allowing bark to solidify, about four hours. When set, break into pieces.
- Store in airtight, covered container at room temperature.