Don’t Be a Tea Dragon!

When I’m talking to people about our teas at farmers markets there is one response that I hear fairly frequently, “I have so much tea at home”. Trying out new tea is wonderful.  But if you are just hoarding them like a tea dragon and not drinking them, it is time to do a little cabinet clearing and look at more ways to weave them into your life. 

There are so many ways to use tea, either Camellia sinensis in its black, white, and green modes, or herbal teas.  The following are just some ways to use up all that botanical wonderfulness.  Having said that, if your teas have been sitting on the shelf for longer than a year, even properly stored, first evaluate them to see if they should even be used.  If they look faded, “dusty”, or have lost their scent it is time to add them to the compost pile, and not the teapot.

  • Make a cocktail or mocktail.  This is a great place to experiment.  You can start with a strong infusion of your favorite teas, infuse the tea into a simple syrup to use in your drinks, infuse the tea directly into a spirit like gin or vodka, or infuse into a fruit juice you will use as a mixer. There are no rules here beyond what taste good. 
  • Use tea to infuse a brine for flavoring chicken or beef.
  • Add dry teas to your homemade soaps.
  • More of a latte kind of person?  Try a tea latte.  Steep 2 teaspoons of a favorite tea (herbal, or not) in ¾ cup of hot water.  Froth 1/3 cup of milk.  Stir milk into tea.  Add a sweetener, if you like.
  • Teas make an unexpected and tasty ingredient in cooking.  The Internet abounds with ideas for this, but as an example, try this recipe from Sunset magazine for Rooibos Butternut “Pizzettas”.

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoon rooibos tea leaves

2 medium-large butternut squashes

Drizzle of olive oil for baking sheets

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Pepper

2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives.

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and add butter and 1 tbsp. tea. When butter foams, remove from heat, cover, and let infuse 10 minutes. Strain butter through a fine sieve; discard tea.
  • Meanwhile, using a large, sturdy, sharp knife, cut off stems and seedless “necks” of squashes (save seeded parts for another use). Stand each neck on a flat side and slice peel off with 7 or 8 cuts, leaving a kind of octagonal shape. Cut necks into 1/2-in. slices. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets and place squash, slightly separated, on sheets.
  • Pulverize remaining 1 1/2 tsp. tea leaves (if already fine, skip this step). Mix with salt.
  • Brush infused butter onto tops of squash slices, then season with pepper and rooibos salt. Bake until very soft, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with chives.

(Sunset Magazine. “Rooibos Butternut “Pizzettas””, Accessed Sept 23, 2020,  https://www.sunset.com/recipe/rooibos-butternut-pizzettas)

  • Add teas to personal beauty products such as body scrubs.  A scrub, or polisher, is easy to make at home by combining 1 tablespoon of dried tea leaves to one cup of organic white or brown sugar, ½ a cup of extra virgin olive oil, or almond oil, 2 tablespoons of honey and 10 drops of your favorite essential oil.
  • Love the smell of teas?  Use them in place of potpourri.  Place an open jar or bowl of tea in a closet or on a shelf to delicately scent the area.  Or pop into a net bag and add to a drawer (or gym bag…or car).  You can even gently simmer teas on the stove.
  • Another way to use up some of that collected tea?  Get a large glass jar with lid, fill it with cool water, add your tea (in a quantity to match the water, roughly 1 teaspoon of tea per cup of water), and place in a bright sunny spot until you see a nice rich brew.  Store your sun tea in the refrigerator and you can enjoy fresh ice tea anytime.  You can also do this and put the jar directly into the refrigerator to brew, but you will get a lighter brew.

So, stop collecting teas and start enjoying them more!

Blooming Artichoke Herbary (2020)

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