Care for a spot of tea? You’re in luck! As one of Restaurant.com President and CMO Christopher Krohn’s 2014 Food Trends, we predict this ancient ingredient will be easy to spot on menus across the country in the year ahead. Whether you take yours with cream and sugar or infused in a chocolate cake, there’s a take on tea everyone can enjoy.
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, so it’s no surprise that restaurants are finding new ways to use the popular leaves outside of the drink menu. Tea is a versatile ingredient that can be used as a spice, rub, marinade, oil, syrup, or flavor infusion for both sweet and savory dishes.
If you’re wondering where to find this trend, the dessert menu a good place to start. Tea takes sugar well, so sweets are a natural place for chefs to experiment with it as an ingredient. Green tea sorbet is increasingly common, while tea-infused cakes, macaroons and even tea-ramisu can be found in local bakeries and at restaurants that offer innovative desserts.
If you want a taste of a tea in a savory dish, scan your menu for dishes that use it as a spice or marinade. Ground tea combined with white pepper is used as a rub for steak and pork, while Earl Gray can add a surprising burst of flavor to a marinade for chicken, tofu or veggies. And, though tea has its origins in the Orient, its use in savory dishes isn’t confined to Asian restaurants. Sweet tea brined pork chops can be found on menus in diners across the Southern U.S.
Finally, we can’t forget tea in its true form –as a beloved beverage! If you haven’t tried the sweet tea that flows freely throughout the South, be sure order it up on your next restaurant visit. If you find sweet tea too sugary, a fruit-infused version like raspberry or lemon is a good alternative. Tea-infused cocktails are becoming increasingly common on drink menus, and traditional green or black teas are also a great coffee substitute with breakfast or at the end of your meal.