Eat a Cup of Tea

The health benefits of tea have been making waves in newspaper and magazine headlines for years. The phytochemicals in green tea in particular have been the focus of much of the emerging research. With all the buzz surrounding tea – including its potential role in cancer prevention – I started thinking about ways to consume more.

Increasing the variety is one answer. Today doing that is particularly easy, since supermarkets offer aisles full of choices. Green tea can be found flavored with mint, orange, even lemongrass. That’s a far cry from the days when there were only a handful of choices, and mostly black teas at that. Americans are also notorious for serving the traditionally hot beverage over ice. But for an even bigger change of pace, I wondered about cooking with tea.

There are precedents for using tea in dishes. Most are ethnic and some are even ancient. Tea eggs are a good example. Chinese cooks make these decadent treats by hard-cooking eggs, cracking their shells and simmering them for up to eight hours in a cocktail of tea, soy sauce, cinnamon and other spices. The eggs emerge with their whites marbled a soft, red-brown. They have a savory, spiced flavor.

Cooking grains in tea seemed like a natural extension of tea eggs. This works particularly well with brown rice – especially fragrant, Asian types like basmati or jasmine. Strong, spiced tea tints the rice just slightly darker and adds pleasant, yet subtle under-notes. The shrimp I like using in this dish are the small, precooked frozen varieties that are reasonably priced.

Brown Rice and Shrimp Salad

– Makes 6 servings

  • 1 ½ cups (6 ounces) frozen cooked and shelled small shrimp
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp. canola oil
  • 2 spiced teabags
  • 2 ½ cups hot water
  • ¾ cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 Gala apple, cored and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 whole scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp. roasted sliced almonds, optional, for garnish

Defrost the shrimp according to package directions.

Grate the zest from the lemon and the orange. Set aside. Squeeze the juice from one orange half and one lemon half into a medium bowl. Add the salt and pepper, whisking to dissolve the salt. Whisk in the canola oil. Add the shrimp, cover and refrigerate up to 1 hour.

In a medium saucepan, steep the tea in the hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze out and discard teabags (note that the brewed tea should be quite strong). Add the uncooked rice to the tea. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Let the rice sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature. There should be about three cups of cooked rice.

In a mixing bowl, combine the rice, apple, scallions, raisins, onions, lemon and orange zests. Mix with a fork. Add the shrimp with marinade and mix gently. Garnish with the almonds, if desired. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 201 calories, 4 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 33 g carbohydrate, 9 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 283 mg sodium.

The Author:

AICR’s Nutrition Hotline is a free service that allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. Access it on-line at or by phone (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers. It has provided more than $78 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is

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