How Tea is Seeping into the
Orange County Culinary Scene
While tea-infused dishes have been around for centuries, they have recently been seeping into the American culinary industry leaf by leaf, attracting chefs who are looking to create unique flavor profiles with uncommon ingredients with Tea Infused Menus.
SIMPLE TEA FACTS
-All major types of tea (black, green, white and oolong) derive from a single plant: Camellia Sinensis
-Different teas require varied seeping temperatures
-Tea is the second most widely consumed drink in the world, after water
-This leafy green comprises a $10 billion industry
Versatile in nature, tea can accent a wide variety of both sweet and savory dishes, often
simple in preparation. Restaurants across the country are delving into ancient cooking
methods to extract the subtle flavors held within tea leaves. Perhaps one of the most striking methods is the marbling effect, achieved by boiling eggs in oolong tea (a combination of green and black teas) until the shells crack ever so slightly, creating swirls of green or black against the egg. Tea can also be used for poaching, smoking, and infused into liquors and desserts.
Chefs Carli and Raya (pictured) of THE ANICCA, a highly specialized and imaginative
catering company promoting hyper-local and organic-only ingredients utilize matcha tea to
create a beautiful Matcha Panna Cotta with a Sesame Challah Crumble.
Chefs Carli and Raya both love matcha and say, “This type of tea is unique as it is shade-grown green tea leaves that are ground into a very fine bright green powder. The color it lends to the dish is always vibrant and the flavor is one of a kind. Lightly grassy and mildly sweet.”
Chefs Carli and Raya let the tea leaves sing while keeping the integrity of each ingredient
whole. “We always use and recommend using only organic ingredients in all of our recipes,” they said. “The quality and taste are always superior, and by purchasing organic we are voting with our dollar to support and bring more organic farming into our community.”
The Anicca is one of only a handful of culinary operations in Orange County that utilize tea.
Mostly we find tea used in sweet dessert dishes, but occasionally, as at Don the Beachcomber and their Tea Smoked Duck, we’ll find savory dishes.
A Chefs Perspective
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO USE TEA ON YOUR MENU? Tea is a beautifully subtle flavor that really shines through in both sweet and savory recipes.
HOW DO YOU USE TEA ON YOUR MENU? We utilize tea in a matcha panna cotta with a sesame challah crumble.
HOW IS THE DISH PREPARED? This dish is a super easy crowd pleaser. It’s simply bloomed
gelatin added to a sweetened simmered cream mixture, then poured into little bowls or jars, chilled and served just a few hours later. It’s a perfect end to any meal: light, creamy, and refreshing. The challah sesame crumbles on top add a special crunch and look amazing.
WHAT TYPE OF TEA IS BEST FOR THIS DISH? The best type of tea for this dish is high-grade organic matcha tea powder.
WHAT PAIRS WELL WITH THIS DISH? This dish stands alone as a light and refreshing dessert! You have your tea and dessert in one, and if you’re feeling like some extra matcha kick, serve with a small glass of hot matcha.
WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR TEA? Mountain Rose Herbs at mountainroseherbs.com. Feel free to source using Amazon for smaller batches of high-quality matcha. You get what you pay for. Typically higher priced matcha is bright green.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL TOOLS YOU USE TO INFUSE MATCHA? Yes! Matcha is one of the few teas that require a specific whisk to evenly infuse the fine powder into a liquid. It is a bamboo whisk that you can use in any small bowl.
HOW DO YOU RATE COOKING WITH TEA? Cooking with tea is easy and versatile! Most people don’t commonly cook with tea, so it gives people an opportunity to try some new flavor profiles.
WHAT IS ANOTHER FAVORITE TEA-INSPIRED DISH? Another dish we serve utilizing tea is a
Darjeeling tea ice cream. This doesn’t have the color pop that the matcha does, but the flavor is exquisite.
WHAT SHOULD CUSTOMERS EXPECT WHEN THEY EAT THIS DISH? I think guests should expect something new and refreshingly subtle. The clean flavor allows you to enjoy a pure matcha experience.
WHY DO YOU THINK WE ARE SEEING THE RECENT RISE IN POPULARITY OF COOKING
AND MIXOLOGY WITH TEA? We think people are working more with tea because people are willing/wanting to try new flavors and different dishes. People seem to be more eager to try new things.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU DRINK TEA? We drink tea every day. Usually hot roasted dandelion tea in the morning for a nice roasted flavor. Iced barley tea during the day is very refreshing and super cheap. Iced matcha cashew milk lattes serve as our afternoon pick me up!