Smoking Tea


Smoked loose tea

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who drink coffee and those who drink tea. I have always (and will always) be one of those that drink coffee.  The stronger the better. Don’t get me wrong, tea is fine. I know plenty of tea drinkers and some of my best friends prefer tea. Even my own mother is a tea drinker. But when coffee is present, I will always choose coffee without hesitation. Unless you offer me red wine…then I’ll take both please!

How About Smoking Some Tea?

Coffee and I have a long standing relationship, we go way back. However, from time to time, coffee isn’t there for me and I’ve had to sip a cup of tea instead. I’ve come across a few teas that I’ve grown quite fond of over the years and will sometimes cheat on coffee with (shh…coffee doesn’t know).

There’s one in particular that I enjoy more than the rest: Genmaicha. Genmaicha is a Japanese green tea with roasted rice kernels. Sometimes referred to as “popcorn tea” as the rice will pop much like popping corn would.

Since tea seems to go well with the roasted aromas of the rice, I don’t see why we shouldn’t consider smoking. So let’s smoke some tea!

Experimenting With Different Types of Tea

Now, in full disclosure, this was a shot-in-the-dark, trial and error sort of endeavour. The first time around, I didn’t get the tea leaves wet enough and the smoke flavour was indiscernible in the tea. Remember you need moisture to absorb the smoky flavour after all!

On the second round, I used a spray bottle to mist the tea leaves. I placed them in an aluminum baking tray with water, so that they get well coated, but not floating. That worked much better.

I tried a few different types of tea: Green, English Breakfast, Rooibos, Oolong and Chai.

Best Results with Rooibos and Chai Tea

After smoking each tea for 1.5 hours at 150°F with Alder bisquettes, I steeped the teas for a minute or two in boiling water and did the taste test. There were mixed results.

I expected the Green tea to turn out good, as I enjoyed Genmaicha so much. Unfortunately it made the tea very, very bitter. As was the case with the two black teas, the Oolong and English Breakfast. So far my experimentation was proving fruitless, as green and black teas ended up bitter and sooty tasting.

I didn’t have high hopes for the Rooibos or Chai teas, but was pleasantly proved wrong! The natural spicy flavours of those two teas complimented and stood up to smoke well. The flavour was quite pleasant, but could use a bit of refining, in terms of length of time in the smoker and choice of bisquettes.

All experimentation aside, I think I will stick with my coffee, but for you tea drinkers out there I suggest you give it a try!