Please welcome Kim, who with this post joins The Perfect Pantry as guest blogger. Kim lives in Pasadena, California; she is the business manager for a local farmers market, and also the Friday cook for a nonprofit organization that gathers donated food from various locations, and makes and serves meals to the homeless. This is her first-ever blog post.
Guest post and photos by Kim in Pasadena, California
Many years ago, one of the rites of passage into womanhood was "going to tea" with my friends.
Back then, the really haute-couture department stores had their own tearooms for ladies to rest after a day's shopping. My mother would sometimes take me to tea so I would learn the proper way for a lady to act and dress.
Just about the time I came of age for tea parties, the Beatles, Rolling Stones and (for me) Jethro Tull swept me off to wilder places that were unencumbered by rules and roles. I couldn't really see going to tea in bell-bottoms and a tube top!
Though "going to tea" fell by the wayside, one of the things I look for wherever I live is a place to get good tea, and on one of my wanderings, I found Chado, a tearoom that serves full-service tea. They import their own teas, and their business is modeled on the look and feel of a Mariage Frères tea room.
For the birth of tea, we can thank Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, who had decreed that all water be boiled for safety before drinking.
One day, some stray tea leaves found their way into the emperor's pot of hot water. Rather than discard it, he gave it a try and discovered that tea just makes the whole world right. Because of a happy accident, a lowly leaf became the drink of the royals, and later the drink of everyone.
Cooking with tea is as old as drinking tea. Dried pungent oolong leaves can be used to stuff fish before steaming. Also, dried leaves, particularly when young and green, can add crunch and flavor in rubs to coat fish, meat or poultry, or crumbled to be used as a garnish.
Another way to cook with tea is to add the leaves to the fire source for smoking.
When storing tea, air is the enemy. There are containers with a special top that removes the air so the tea keeps fresh for quite sometime (years), but I've only been able to find one supplier. If the tea is expensive, keep it in its original tin, or buy special tea containers. This also applies to any tea that has the addition of flowers, spices, oils or fruits, including Earl Grey. In my pantry I always have brick tea or pu-erh tea, which needs no special care, will last forever, and is a good all-around tea.
"Smoked" egg salad
Teas like Russian Caravan or Lapsang Souchong (pronounced laps-see-sung) can be brewed into a 'mother' and used as a marinade to impart a smoky flavor to eggs or fish. The marinade of Lapsang Souchong is one of the key ingredients for this smoked egg salad. Note: the eggs must marinate overnight, so start the day before you plan to make the egg salad. Serves 2-4.
4 cups of water
4 tsp of Lapsang Souchong
2-1/2 Tbsp homemade mayonnaise
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp chopped chives
Large pinch of bittersweet paprika
Salt and pepper (to taste)
In a pot of cold water, bring the eggs to the boil, and simmer (from start to finish this should take 20 minutes).
Put water on to boil for the tea. Just as the water starts to boil, turn off heat. If using loose tea, use 4 teaspoons to 2 cups of water. The goal here is to make a slightly strong mother. Brew the tea for 10 minutes, then remove the bags.
Once the eggs have cooled, peel them and put them in a container that will hold them comfortably. You want a container large enough that the eggs won't touch each other. Pour tea over eggs; add the remaining 2 cups of water if the eggs are not covered, then add a bit more water but not more than 1/4 cup. Put the container in the fridge overnight.
Chop eggs, and add the mayonnaise, garlic powder, chives, bittersweet paprika, and salt and pepper to taste.
If you wish, you can also add a 6-ounce can of salmon and a large pinch of coriander.
Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.