When you consider the price of top quality tea, it's good to know that you'll enjoy the flavor not only for many steeps, but also in your food. Delicate leaves like white or green tea can be used in your cooking. (The last steep of darker more mature leaves used for oolong and red tea, I save for stock.)
When I am drinking green tea, I save the last steep (often times steep #6) along with the leaves for cooking. I don't necessarily have a recipe in mind. It's like jazz; some technique and lots of improvisation. In this recipe I used Korean rice and Jungjak green tea. This is a delicate dish, and I would not recommend adding hot sauce or black pepper, if you want to taste every ingredient including the tea leaves.
Serves 1 (or 2 as a side)
1/2 cup Korean short-grain rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
1 cup Jungjak green tea water (steep #6 with 3 grams of tea leaves),
2 tbsps grapeseed or avocado oil
3 dried shiitakes, rehydrated until soft, stems removed, caps julienned
1 oz ginger, peeled and finely julienned (like thread)
2 generous handfuls mung bean sprouts (about 8 ounces)
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1/4 cup reserved pre-steeped Jungjak green tea leaves
1) In a claypot over low heat add the rice and green tea water. Cook until the rice has absorbed the liquid fully and is starting to crisp at the bottom (we love a good crust), about 20 minutes.
2) About 5 minutes before the rice is done cooking, heat the wok over high heat. Add the grapeseed oil and stir-fry the shiitakes and ginger until golden, about 1 minute. Toss in the mung bean sprouts and stir-fry until wilted (but not mushy), about 2 minutes, seasoning with soy sauce. Add sesame oil, toss well and remove from heat. While still hot, toss in green tea leaves and serve over rice.
• TO SERVE 4: use 2 cups of rice and 2-3/4 cups tea water. Stir-fry with 3 tbsps oil and season with 3 tbsps soy sauce and 2 tsps dark sesame oil. Double everything else :)