It is believed that tea originated around 2737 BC. Its history is long and complex but we know one thing to be true: the concept of tea has traversed nearly every culture over thousands of years, bearing witness to war, trade, colonization, and everything in between.
So… why do we limit ourselves to only drinking it?
Tea works the same way herbs do: they infuse flavor into foods through water. Using various types of tea can easily intensify the flavor profile of a soup, dressing, even rice or grains with almost no effort.
I decided to incorporate matcha, a powdered and specially processed form of green tea into this creamy asparagus soup that I always love making come spring. If you can’t find matcha, you can certainly use pouches of regular green tea instead. The tea adds an herbacious, almost umami-like flavor, complementing the fullness of the asparagus with its subtle grassiness that’s nearly impossible to find elsewhere—not to mention countless health benefits.
Let this be an inspiration to explore beyond green tea—perhaps next time you make rice or quinoa, throw in a bag of mint or herbal tea. Try adding a powdered black tea into pancake batter or scones for a floral and robust compliment to your sweets. Keep in mind that different teas steep at different temperatures, and it is important not to burn the tea, otherwise the tea will develop a very bitter flavor and probably ruin your dish. If you are working around the temperature of boiling water, for example, you’ll want to stay away from white, yellow, and certain types of green tea, or at least let your dish cool sufficiently. A better reference to optimal tea-steeping temperatures can be found here.
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into ~1 inch segments
- 6 cups stock of your choosing
- 2 pouches or 1 tablespoon loose matcha (yes, you can and should eat the leaves!)
- 1 cup sour cream
- salt and pepper
- chili powder (garnish)
- lemon (garnish)
- Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan; add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft (~5 minutes)
- Add asparagus; season and sauté for ~5 more minutes
- Add stock; bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 35 minutes–asparagus at this point should be fork tender
- Take off heat; after ~5 minutes, add the matcha (it is important to lower the temperature slightly)
- Blend (and strain if you want it completely smooth); return to pot and add sour cream
- Taste, serve, and garnish!