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Tea Time

John Harney doesn’t need to give you an excuse to cook with tea. The master teamaker (whose eponymous tea company is now one of the most famous suppliers in the world — it’s even served in the English royal palaces) thinks tea should be used all the time, in everything and for everything. Harney and Sons has even made and sold bath sachets filled with tea.His new collection of recipes, “The Tea Cookbook” (a followup to his 2001 book, “Eat Tea”), doesn’t waste a lot of words explaining how healthy or delicious tea can be. This is more of a lemons-to-lemonade guide, a book that marvels at all the incredible, yummy tea that can be found out there in the world (and right here in the Harney factory in Millerton).A few years ago, it seemed like you couldn’t walk down the street without a person, a sign, a magazine cover shouting out that tea is really, really good for you (especially organic green tea). Apparently either everyone got bored and moved on to the new healthy food of the moment, or nutritionists (and tea salesmen) decided that we got the message.For anyone who needs a recap, green tea is considered one of the healthiest substances you can drink (or eat, as this cookbook shows). Black tea used to be treated as the, well, the black sheep in the tea family, but new studies indicate that it has almost as many health benefits as the lighter-colored varieties. All teas have lots of the antioxidants that seem to do everything from fighting the common cold (vitamin C is one of the most famous antioxidants) to helping ward off cancer. Tea is also believed to help lower your blood pressure — and not just because a hot cuppa can be so soothing.Anyone interested in learning to properly brew a cup of tea (starting with fresh leaves, always, according to Harney) can stop by the tea tasting shop in Millerton. Anyone interested in learning to cook with tea can choose from dozens of websites that specialize in the subject; or they can keep it close to home by trying some of the dozens of recipes in Harney’s book (which also includes a truly interesting explanation of how Harney went from owner of Salisbury’s White Hart Inn to an award-winning purveyor of fine teas). The book was created with the help of cookbook author Joanna Pruess, who explains in the introductory section that one simple way to add tea to your favorite recipes is to substitute brewed tea (leaves removed) for water or broth. As a person of Asian extraction, I naturally associate green tea with white rice, so I was particularly attracted to this recipe for jasmine rice. The jasmine tea leaves are (of course) sold at the Harney and Sons shop in Millerton. Pruess says that “many teas can be used to add flavor to rice. Try fruit and spice teas, such as peach and ginger, for summer salads, and black currant or Cranberry Autumn Blend for wild rice dishes.Jasmine riceFrom “The Tea Cookbook”2 teaspoons Dragon Pearl jasmine tea leaves; 1 cup jasmine or long-grain white rice; 1 teaspoon saltBring two cups of water just to a boil. Add the tea leaves, remove from heat and infuse for three to four minutes. Strain, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible, and discard the tea leaves. Combine the liquid with the rice and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce heat, simmer until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed (about 20 minutes).

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