Tea can be drunk, but it can also be eaten. In Yunnan, Hangzhou and Mount Wuyi, where the best teas are grown, the local restaurants serve tea banquets using a variety of tea in the food.
Here are a couple of recipes for you to try. The first is a tea-smoked duck that is enticingly fragrant, and is a lovely appetizer chased down with - what else but - a cup of hot, steaming tea. The Longjing Crystal Prawns is a Hangzhou specialty, and it is a more delicate dish compared to the robustness of the smoked duck. Still, it is an equally appealing dish, especially when the prawns are in season, sweet and succulent.
Recipe | Longjing Crystal Prawns
Ingredients (serves 4):
500 g fresh medium prawns (about 16)
1 tbsp Chinese white wine or baijiu
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp corn starch
2 tbsp longjing tea leaves, steeped in 1 cup hot water
1. Pour hot water over longjing tea leaves and allow to steep until leaves are revived and plumped up.
2. Peel and wash prawns. Rinse in very cold water repeatedly until prawn flesh turn clear.
3. Marinate prawns in the sugar, salt and corn starch and baijiu.
4. Heat up a generous scoop of oil until smoking. Quickly run the prawns through the oil and drain immediately, all of five seconds. Drain the oil and place wok back on the fire.
5. Add prawns, tea leaves and a little tea and toss well to mix. Finally, drizzle more white wine along the side of the wok to add more aroma. Plate and garnish with more tea leaves.