At Sir Jason Winters, our love of tea is certainly no secret. We know that tea can be a significant part of preparing your favorite meals, as well as being one of the most healthful things to make a part of your daily routine. Tea as an ingredient in marinades, brines, and sauces can give your favorite dish an added level of taste that’s both savory and sophisticated.
Tea Is a Natural Meat Tenderizer
There’s no reason to suffer through a meal of tough meat. Tea is one of the most inexpensive, all-natural solutions to turn each bite into a tasty morsel.
When you brew a strong cup of tea, you may notice that if you let it steep too long, the tea can have a bitter taste. The bitterness comes from naturally occurring emollients within the tea called tannins.
While we have talked about tannins before here on our blog, for a quick recap, tannins are a class of polyphenols contained within the leaves of many pants, including the Camellia sinensis plant that green and black tea comes from.
The tannins found in tea can help draw out the natural juices found within the meat and make them more juicy and tender. If you’ve ever marinated meat in wine, it’s a similar effect. Many wines also contain tannins.
Whether you are looking for a marinade or brine for your favorite meats, like chicken, pork, beef, seafood, or even tofu, tea can take all of them to a whole new level.
Using Marinades Safely
When it comes to putting your marinades and brines to use, according to Emily Gatrell, author of “Marinades for the Rest of Us,” there are just a few things you need to remember:
- Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Never at room temperature or outdoors.
- Only use glass or plastic containers or sealable plastic bags to marinate meats. Metal and glazed pottery can react to acids in some marinades, and chemicals can leach into your food.
Super Simple Tea Marinade
Every good recipe starts with the basics. If you’re new to marinades, this recipe is a great place to start, and you can use it for up to two pounds of beef, pork, or chicken.
- Brew approximately 1 ½ cups of Sir Jason Winters Green Herbal Tea and allow to cool. A strong infusion may require 2 tea-bags.
- 2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon marjoram
- 1 Tablespoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine the tea and herbs with a whisk. Add olive oil and whisk until it has the consistency of a light salad dressing.
Pour over meat in a large baking dish, plastic container, or sealable plastic bag and allow to marinate for several hours or overnight. You can marinate for up to 24 hours for larger or tougher cuts of meat.
Remove the meat from the marinade and discard. Grill or broil the meat to your preference.
Lemon Pepper Tea Marinated Chicken
- ¾ to 1 cup of brewed black or green tea
- Juice of 1 whole lemon
- 2–3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked and ground
- 1 sprig of rosemary or 1 Tablespoon of dried rosemary
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or cutlets
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and combine well. Place marinade in a sealable plastic bag along with the chicken and seal the bag. Allow the contents of the marinade to coat the chicken completely. Place the bag with marinade and chicken into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Grill or broil your chicken until done, and serve with your favorite side dishes, basmati, or wild grain rice.
Ginger Peach Green Tea Marinade
- 2 Tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
- 1teaspoon of ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon of sea, kosher or pink salt
- Sir Jason Winters Green Herbal Tea (GHT) using 1 or 2 tea bags to make 1 cup of tea
- 3 Tablespoons of peach preserves
- 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Mix ginger, pepper, salt, and peach preserves together in a small bowl. Set aside. Make a strong infusion of Sir Jason Winters Green Herbal Tea, enough to make 1 cup of liquid. Hold back approximately 4 tablespoons of prepared marinade.
Place 1 to 1 ½ lbs. of meat into a glass or plastic dish or into a sealable plastic bag. Place the meat and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 -2 hours for meat, or just 30 minutes for fish or other seafood. Remove from marinade and discard any remaining liquid.
Broil or grill meat to preferred doneness, brushing the reserved marinade over the meat while cooking occasionally. The meat should be tender with a taste that is both sweet, spicy, and delicious. Served with your favorite sides, such as grilled vegetables, rice, or baked potato, you’ll have a meal to remember!
Black Tea & Soy Marinated Tofu
For those who prefer non-meat options, this recipe, which can be used with tofu instead, is delicious!
- 1 four-ounce package of extra-firm tofu
- 2 black or green tea bags for a strong infusion of approximately 1 cup of liquid.
- 1Tablespoons of regular or reduced-sodium soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
Place tofu in paper toweling or a dish towel and place a weight on top of it for 10 minutes to remove excess liquid.
Make a strong infusion of tea to make 1 cup of tea. Add all other ingredients to the tea. Remove pressed tofu and slice into 10–12 pieces. Place in a glass casserole dish or baking dish and cover with marinade mixture. Allow tofu to sit in the marinade mixture for 2 to 8 hours or overnight. To incorporate the full flavor into the tofu, be sure to turn the pieces over halfway through the marinating process.
Bake on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray or lightly brushed with olive oil at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the tofu slices are firm and golden brown.
You don’t have to limit your tea-infused dishes to those presented here. If you want to explore even more healthful and delicious dishes that incorporate tea, be sure to check our past blog entry, “Cooking with Tea.”
“Marinades for the Rest of Us: Easy & Delicious Marinades” by Emily Gatrell, 2020 Relevant Daearen,
“Flavorize: Great Marinades, Injections, Brines, Rubs, and Glazes” by/ Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe, 2015, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA
“The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook” by Gloria Bley Miller, 1980, Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York, NY