At thespicelab.com, they carry hundreds of different varieties, infused flavors, and have a collection of extremely rare teas. What chef wouldn’t want to explore the possibilities with so much of this extraordinary ingredient at their disposal? Tea is an extremely versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
HOW DO YOU USE TEA IN YOUR MENU ITEMS?
I’ve used tea (Strawberry Oolong) in our signature Strawberry Oolong Ice Cream, which is one of my personal favorites. I have also used Black Tea (Lapsang Souchong (Yan Xun), as a poaching liquid in our Tea Infused Shrimp Spring Rolls. It gets quite hot in South Florida so we make a lot of Iced Tea. One of our favorites is our Lavender Iced Tea- it’s a simple elegant use of this blend that quenches thirst and satisfies the palate.
WHAT SORT OF FLAVOR PROFILE IS CREATED?
When I create a dish, I try to allow the tea to impart as much flavor into the dish as possible without leaving any lingering bitterness. Each tea is different and is subject to differing results depending on how it is handled. Some of our teas can be steeped for long periods of time and others takes less than 30 seconds. Our co-owner, Brett Cramer, has imparted his wisdom and expertise to help me to create some of the tastiest creative dishes anywhere using tea.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL TOOLS YOU USE TO INFUSE TEA INTO EACH DISH/DRINK?
For infusing liquids, like tequila, vodka, let the leaves float in the bottle, and strain through a sieve. For cooking, it is OK to eat the tea leaves, or use a X-Large tea / spice ball, to keep the leaves from getting everywhere.
WHY DO YOU THINK WE ARE SEEING THE RECENT RAISE IN POPULARITY OF COOKING AND MIXOLOGY WITH TEA?
Teas are becoming mainstream, and are appearing on more people’s radar. The biggest
issue with the public enjoying tea, is that most people have never had good tea. Tea can be
amazing, if prepared correctly.
THREE THINGS NEEDED FOR GOOD TEA:
1. Correct Water Temperature: each kind of tea needs to be cooked at a different temp.
2. Correct Steeping Time: each tea needs to be brewed for a specific time. Over brewing creates bitterness, while under brewing results in a tasteless bland tea.
3. Correct Purchasing of Tea: Unfortunately, most of us in the U.S. look for fast and cheap. Cheap tea bags are not going to give great tea results. At first glance, a really good tea may seem expensive. However, most good teas can be brewed 2-3-4-5-6 times… then the cost of each brew is inexpensive. Most good Asian teas (nonflavored) taste better on the second or third brew. Lose the tea bag…. or only buy a high-quality tea from a company that sells a lot of loose leaf teas, and also sells bags.
TheSpiceLab.com is a gourmet specialty tea salt and spice store that offers some of the
finest and most rare teas, salts and spices anywhere in the world. Chef Cindy Taffel has
developed hundreds of customized dishes using their fine offerings.