Cooking with Tea - London Tea and Coffee Festival Provides Inspiration

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Did you know that there was a whole three day festival last weekend, devoted to tea and coffee? Great British Chefs guest blogger Urvashi Roe aka @BotanicalBaker, went along and it led to some inspiration in her kitchen.

All photos by Urvashi Roe

The London Tea and Coffee Festival. A whole three days dedicated to tea and coffee. How marvellous I thought and indeed it was. Tucked away behind the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank was a maze of lesser known tea and coffee makers all with their unique stories to tell. Choi Time, Comins Tea House, Kopi, Sea Islands Coffee and so many more.

My coffee favourite was The Ethiopian Coffee Company. They produce coffee in much the same way as it has been done in Ethiopia for nearly a thousand years and treated us to a traditional Ethiopian Tea Ceremony. The green beans were roasted over a charcoal fire producing some amazing smells. This process is unhurried, often taking hours to brew the final cup. It’s an occasion for the women of the community to gather for a chat. Ladies of all generations meet in the morning or throughout the course of the day with their tales, questions, woes or just some plain old gossip. How brilliant. I must adopt this ritual in my house on a Sunday morning!

My tea favourite was Lapsang Souchong by The East India Company. I already knew that this tea came from Ancient China but I hadn’t realised that the distinctive smoky flavour has such a history. During the Qing Dynasty, soldiers made camp in a tea factory displacing the tea workers. When the workers came back, they realised that to make the tea market in time, they needed to dry the tea quickly on an open fire. They not only saved time but also discovered that the process left a pine-smoke flavour within the tea which proved extremely popular. I learned to really taste the tea – black, no milk or sugar – you need to take a sip, suck air into your mouth as you would with a wine tasting and then swallow. I also learned that as a black tea, the flavours work well in cooking and baking.

This recipe for Baby Beetroot Smoked with Lapsang Souchong Tea by Marcus Wareing on The Great British Chefs website is so simple and leaves glorious smells in the kitchen - buttery walnuts, balsamic vinegar reducing down and finally the smokey tea when you open the beetroot foil parcel. A true feast for the nose! I baked the beetroot in the morning, turned the oven off, went for a run and did the walnuts and dressing when I got back. It was the perfect light Sunday lunch with a slab of crusty white bread.

Blog post for Great British Chefs by Urvashi Roe.

What dishes have you made using tea or coffee? We’re sharing ideas discussing over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.


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