You may have experimented with different kinds of woods to flavor food on the grill, but have you tried using loose tea leaves to do the same? Tea-smoking is an ancient Chinese technique you can use at home for wonderfully exotic and delicious results. Chicken, duck, salmon, and shrimp turn out beautifully burnished and imbued with a rich and fragrant smokiness. And all that flavor comes from a foil packet filled with tea, rice, brown sugar, spices, and citrus zest. Simply slip the packet under the grill grate—directly on the hot coals or on top of a metal gas burner shield—then close the lid and let the smoke do its magic.
More Tea-Smoking Videos and Recipes
Watch it: Tea-Smoked Salmon with Citrus-Cucumber Relish
Get the recipe: Tea-Smoked Salmon with Citrus-Cucumber Relish
Watch it: Coconut Noodle Soup with Tea-Smoked Shrimp
Get the recipe: Coconut Noodle Soup with Tea-Smoked Shrimp
More Tea-Smoking Recipes
Tea-Smoked Chicken Salad with Coriander and Pickled Red Onions
Crisp Tea-Smoked Duck with Green Mango & Basil Salad
Three Keys to Smoking Success
Keep it Dry:
Make sure the food you’re smoking is as dry as possible by patting it well with a paper towel. Dry food will absorb the smoke better and will pick up a more even color and flavor.
Arrange the food on the grill so that it’s not directly above the smoking packet. This way, it gets a gentle infusion of smoky flavor rather than an overwhelming hit of smoke.
Color is a clear indication of flavor. If the food takes on a dark, amber hue before it’s cooked to your liking, remove the smoking packet from the heat and continue to grill until the food is done.
Videography by Gary Junken and Michael Dobsevage, edited by Cari Delahanty