The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Black Tea Sourdough

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Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Black Tea Sourdough

Many years ago I was in Hang-chow, China, 200 km south west of Shanghai, visiting their Tea Museum.  The museum is set in the beautiful West Lake where historically poets and artists gathered.  I bought a cookbook incorporating tea in dishes at the museum.  I thought at the time the idea was really clever, and why not, Oolong tea (a type of green tea) is so good for us.  Other than that, there's not much to speak of about the book, which is in its typical Chinese crude way of presenting cuisine.   


Scroll forward 9 years.  I've got a Tea Liqueur sitting in my pantry since my last trip in Japan.                   


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Black Tea Liqueur


As a Chinese, I used to look down on Japan - everything they've had culturally came from historical China anyway.  But I was very, very wrong.  Their samurai spirit is such that they might have initially learnt some things from China, but they have been doing it better.  Is there another country in the world where the old and the new co-exist so beautifully?  I had to go to Kyoto to see how historical China (we are talking about 900 AD) drank their tea.   


Anyway, I've been wanting to use this black tea liqueur.   I used to make Earl Grey Banana Bread to take to my kids' tuck shop morning tea, and the ladies there all loved it, saying how complementary and nice the fragrance from earl grey tea was with banana.  Speaking of earl grey tea, the Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, who used to apprentice with the now infamous UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay (the only London three Michelin-starred chef), won the Great British Menu challenge for the desert category and his desert was served at the Queen's 80th birthday banquet.  His Earl Grey Tea Custard is something to die for.  


My subject here is bread.  I am not allowed to do deserts (self-imposed).   I thought I'd just do a simple, honest Black Tea Sourdough, and see what happened (but I'll have to get help from Tea Liqueur!).   So here it is. 


             


             Black Tea Sourdough Boule  


When I set out to make this bread, I did not have high expectations, because who would have known how sourdough culture would fare with black tea, let alone the liqueur!    


My formula


250 g starter @ 75% hydration refreshed in mid-morning (6 hours to double)


272 g unbleached white flour


125 g cool black tea (I used 2 English Breakfast tea bags)


18 g honey


16 g Tea Liqueur


7 g salt  


 


The dough was mixed after dinner, let to ferment for three hours, then shaped and let stand at room temp (15C) overnight to proof.  I baked it this morning at 7 am.   


Now, before I show my crumb picture (I know everybody at The Fresh Loaf is as crumb-obsessed as myself!), I have to quote Kaplan.  He said that he almost missed his son's birthday because he spend the whole afternoon with Pierre Poilane back in 1969.   "Master Poilane was then still making glorious golden-brown batards whose dense mie (crumb) exploded with aromas evocative of harvests and dried fruit." (page 1 of his "Good Bread Is Back").  


Hmmmm.... I tried to picture a dense crumb exploded with aromas....  


 


                                                  


                                                  The crumb of the Black Tea Sourdough Boule  


It's in the spirit of a joke that I placed this picture with his quote.  But I wish I could EMS a slice of this sourdough to you all - to say it is aromatic is an understatement!  It is at once subtle and penetrating. 


Well, I am Chinese.  I love tea.  It may not be everybody's cup of tea.  


                                                                                                                                         


Enjoy!


Shiao-Ping   

Comments

TeaIV's picture
TeaIV

oh wow! you are so creative! now, I must ask, what is tea liqueur? just tea?


 


I actually drink a lot of tea, and I know quite a bit about it, it's much like a hobby for me (like baking), so I always have good tea around. I've tried using it before instead of water, but it didn't seem to affect the bread, so I'm guessing this liqueur stuff is not just straight tea?


 


I saw andrew Zimmerman from bizzare foods eat a bunch of food with tea in it in Taiwan, and It looked really good. I'd love to try cooking with tea.


 


TeaIV

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

I cannot claim credit for the "creativity." It was MC at Bombance and Farine who gave me the inspiration to use the stencil.  She often incoporates the stencilling in her beautiful designs of breads. 


The tea liqueur is a liqueur flavored by tea "essence" (which I am not sure is a chemical or a natural tea "extract").  These days you get a lot of fruit flavored "essence" in pastry supply stores; they sell very cheaply, along with stuff like almond essence, orange essence, and the like. 


You are right that tea doesn't stand out in cooking and baking, unless you make it so strong, which becomes bitter and the flavor is somewhat destroyed.   That is why something like "tea liqueur" or "tea essence" is good, but beware, they are more or less about the tea "flavor", not the actual tea.  When we want the goodness of tea (ie, detoxing effect, anti-oxidant property, etc), we can only get it from actual drinking of the best tea.  That is why I haven't gone all out experimenting recipes with tea.  It is a catch 22. 


The best tea is always subtle in taste, and it is always lost in cooking and baking.  So far, what I've found working is the so-called flavored tea - Earl Grey is one best example of flavored tea (there is no such tea tree with that name) because its flavor is strong and won't be lost.  That is why earl grey tea is so good in quick breads and, I imagin, muffins.  Another flavored tea which has become somewhat vogue in Australia is the Chai tea, which is flavored with heavy cinnamon, cloves, and other spices.  Something like this won't be lost in cooking and baking either.  But then do we like the taste? It is individual taste, isn't it?


Shiao-Ping

TeaIV's picture
TeaIV

ah, well I'd think I'd rather drink tea with my bread ;).

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Tea lovers like us who also love to cook and bake often fall into the romantic trap that it may be possible to combine the fresh taste into the cooked/baked food.  Sorry, I am just speaking about myself.  I have had many a failed attempts.  And now, mostly I just drink tea as is.  On an infrequent basis nowadays, I give my friends Chinese tea ceremony (my euphemism for the procedure) and on these occasions I would make small pastry treats to go with the tea (which is atypical on a strictly classical sense of the "ceremony" - only fresh fruits and nuts are allowed as the smell from cooked food and pastry may interfere with the fragrance from tea, not dissimilar to wine tasting where food is discouraged. 


Most delightful for me to have come across tea lovers here at TFL.  Thank  you.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I see a lot of recipes today for tea-smoked duck, chicken, and fish. I did a google on "Black Tea Liqueur" but mostly turned up smoky Lapsang Souchong tea. I a big tea drinker, but have never acquired a taste for smoky teas. Would you tell us more about the flavor of your tea liqueur?


--Pamela

TeaIV's picture
TeaIV

I would use lapsang souchong. I know many don't like it because it literally tastes like you'd think smoke from firewood tastes, but when brewed right, it has a sweet after taste. I think in the US they call it tea extract, but I'm really not sure.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi Pamela, my tea liqueur is not smoky in taste or fragrance.   It is more like jasmin fragrance.  This is because in Japan, as well as in Taiwan (and China), the superior tea is never smoked (I don't mean to be rude, but to put it in a crude way, you would not "bastardize" your fresh ingredient if it is of good quality).  The cheapest "fresh" (as opposed to "smoke") scent that you can get from tea is jasmin.  And therefore, most tea liqueur (or tea "essence") that I've come across has a hint, either strong or faint, of jasmin. 


But note that jasmin is NOT a tea tree; it is a flower that is often grown near tea plantation.  Some CHEAP tea has that scent as a marketing variety for business reasons.  Best tea would not have any added flavor or scent, jasmin or otherwise.


So, what is the flavor of this Japanese tea liqueur I have?  With a hint of jasmin, this liqueur is sweet in taste and very alcoholy.  I think you could reproduce this tea liqueur by adding a drop or two of jasmin or green tea essence in a couple of tablespoonful of, say, rum or grand marnier.   That's the best I can do to describe it.


Based on the foregoing, you can imagine why Lapsang Souchong is not something you would normally find in Japan or Taiwan. 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I guess that makes sense. Most of the smokey tea I've tried was probably Russian. I'll have to look for some non-Russian Lapsang Souchong.


--Pamela

TeaIV's picture
TeaIV

accidental double-post, sorry!

Flo Makanai's picture
Flo Makanai

This bread is beautiful and the crumb, although dense, seems extremely flavorful.


I don't have tea liqueur (in France) but I do have -and love- tea, including some I've just brought back from Hong Kong, so thank you very much for this idea!


Flo

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi Flo


Lovely to hear from you.  Happy to meet with another tea lover.  Your tea from Hong Kong would be Chinese origin, right?  Have you come across tea from Taiwan, specifically Taiwanese Oolong tea?  The Oolong tea that is planted on high altitude, mountainous area, is the best - the anti-oxidant property is the highest among all teas without sacrificing the flavor; its color is light golden color. 


Shiao-Ping

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Shiao-Ping, your bread looks beautiful and I'm sure the taste is wonderful!  What a great addition to use the tea liqueur!  I'm sure there are many this bread would appeal too!  I have drank tea nearly every day every since I can remember!  I have heard the Irish consume more tea than China, truely, probably because our cups are so much bigger 'lol' ; )  I use it also in cooking and have two drawers full of tea's.  I love the Oolong tea and is one of my favorite,  though I drink every morning my English or Irish Breakfast tea.  The Queen's favorite tea I have heard is Earl Grey...so I'am sure it scored big points being served as a custard!  I have never heard of the 'Tea Liqueur'.  I will keep see if I can find some in our local Asian market.  It sounds wonderful.  I have an older post on here of a dessert where I used tea to flavor the glaze!


Sylvia

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi sylvia


Lovely to hear from you.  I love (running out of words) to meet with other tea drinkers.  Drinking tea is a ritual for me every day.  My nephew's wife is from Ireland and she loves my Taiwanese Oolong tea too.  We often have a "cuppa" together.  I would love to read your post of the dessert using tea for the glaze.  I will look it up.


Thanks.


Shiao-Ping

TeaIV's picture
TeaIV

I don't speak chinese, but I recognize the character on the bread. correct me if I'm wrong, but it's the symbol for tea (cha), right? I saw it when I read the classic of tea (which I recommend to everyone).


 


TeaIV

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi TeaIV,


Lovely for you to have recognized the character.  Yes, it is "cha."  I am big on Chinese tea; no, correction, Taiwanese Chinese tea. 


Thank you for your comment.


shiao-ping

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I just love to see your "outside the box" ideas.  They are all so cool and your presentations are just perfect!


MC's picture
MC

...for your very kind words, Shiao-Ping, but I truly don't think you need a muse for your baking as you seem to be brimming with ideas for new designs and tastes. It is always such a pleasure to read your posts and discover your breads. This one is stunning!

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

It has inspired me to give this recipe a try.  I've been baking sandwich loaves using EG tea, replacing all of the water with milk and water and I add dry EG tea leaves to the dough to give it a more distinctive aroma.  I don't have a  sourdough starter but I have been using multi-build levains and wondered if this might also work.  I do realise that the effect of a sourdough vs. multi-build levain may differ, I've tried adapting sourdough recipes with yeast water levain and  results seem to be satisfactory so far.  Now that I have different  bottles of yeast water in my fridge, I'm  constantly on the look out for recipes to put my yeast water to good use.  I shall return with a report  of my experiment.    - Judy

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Thank you for your comment.  Adding tea leaves is an interesting variation for visual effect and tastes I am sure.    What does the yeast in your "yeast water" feed on?  I am curious.  Thank you.  Shiao-Ping 

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I managed to replicate your Black Tea Boule with some success, using my raisin yeast water and following the 75% hydration level of 75% (I've only learnt to work with 100%).  I made a mistake with the calculations but luckily caught my mistake just in time before adding all of the levain into the mixing bowl and this is end result.  It does not have the beauty and colour  of your boule  but the taste of tea and aroma from the EG tea leaves (from tea bag) is distinct.  The crust is thin and crisp  but only while it was still hot, by the time it cooled down it was soft and chewy.

I'm quite pleased with result and most importantly I am pleased that I have learnt how to convert a sourdough recipe to one simply using yeast water alone.   I'm using raisins and a fews pieces of granny smith apples in my yeast water which I made in April and have kept it going with a few raisins  plus a teaspoon of raw sugar once a week.    Thanks again for your recipe, Judy

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

July, that is a very nice boule.  Thanks for uploading the photo.  Shiao-Ping