Flavors of Asia: Learn to cook with tea at TeaSource


Cooking with tea has been part of the Chinese culinary tradition for thousands of years. Marble tea eggs and tea smoked chicken are just two of the traditional dishes still served today. But, cooking with tea takes on some new dimensions at TeaSource with teacher Li Hua Sung and her Cooking with Tea classes. The next one is September 25th and registrations fill up fast.

A native of Taiwan, Sung learned traditional Chinese cooking from her mother who runs a restaurant in South Taiwan. When Sung and her husband moved to Minnesota, she brought along her love of cooking and shares it with students in her cooking classes. We attended one last spring and found her an enthusiastic, talented teacher.
In that class she turned traditional tea eggs into sesame-cilantro-ginger flavored devilled eggs (see recipe). She also used tea leaves to poach salmon, in a sauce for spring rolls, and as the base for apple slush. The teas ranged from Yunnan Puerh for the dark color on the eggs, to red or black tea ground for the sauce, to Oriental Beauty Oolong for the salmon, and Yin Hao Jasmine for the slush. Each tea has its own special flavor, density, and color, and they are all part of the more than 250 imported teas and blends available at TeaSource.

Owner Bill Waddington has been a tea enthusiast for most of his life and continues to search the world for new and exciting teas for his two stores and mail order catalog. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Premium Tea Institute, was Chairman of the 2004 Specialty Tea Institute Symposium, and was the keynote speaker at the China International Tea Expo, Beijing, China Oct. 2005.


TeaSource Li Hua Sung’s Marble Devil Egg with Yunnan Puerh

Makes 20
10 marble tea eggs, peeled (see instructions below)

Mix together:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. sugar
2 green onions, finely minced
¼ cup cilantro stems, finely minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper

Garnish with:
2 Tbsp. white sesame seeds and 2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

1.  Cut each egg in half lengthwise and gently scoop out the yolks into a mixing bowl. Set white halves aside. Mash yolks with a fork until smooth. Mix the mayonnaise mixture together well and mix into the mashed yolks until thoroughly blended.

2.  Fill the cup in each white with about one rounded tablespoon of filling so that it forms nearly a ball. Or, place filling in a piping bag or plastic bag with open tip and pipe the filling into white halves mounding the filling above the whites.

3.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately at room temperature. If eggs are to be held for any length of time before serving, lightly cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.

Marble Tea Eggs with Yunnan Puerh
10 hardboiled eggs, shells gently cracked but not broken
5 cups water
¼ cup Yunnan Puerh dry tea leaves
2 star anise
s slices ginger
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice wine
1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder, optional

Place all ingredients in a wok or saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low, cover pan, and simmer for 50 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Drain eggs and peel.  Leave whole and serve warm or at room temperature.  For a stronger flavor, leave the eggs in the stewing liquid overnight, then peel and serve.

Cooking with Tea will be held Saturday, September 25 with one session from 9 – 11 a.m. and a repeat class from 1 – 3 p.m. at TeaSource in the St. Anthony Shopping Center. Advance registration is required and the fee for each class is $20 per person. Additional TeaSource classes include Tea Basics on September 11, Tea and Chocolate with Trotter’s on September 9 and November 18, Tea for the Coffee Lover on October 2, Tea and Food Pairing at Trotter’s Café on October 12, New Teas November 6, Hype vs. Health on November 13, and Gong Fu on November 20.

For information on time, locations, and fees, go to www.teasource.com, or call 612-788-7842 or toll free 877-768-7233. Or visit the TeaSource store in Highland, St. Paul at 752 Cleveland or in the St. Anthony Shopping Center.
The two-hour classes are $15-$20 per person and seating is limited, so register early.

Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the website at www.asianculinaryarts.com.