In Austria today has been dedicated to a famous infusion with leaves from the Camellia sinensis (Linnaeus/Kuntze), commonly known as tea. The first wild tea plants grew in China and were later taken to Japan by Buddhist monks around 552 AD. These plants have been growing in Southeast Asia for the past 60 million years. It is thus very much a wonder that our modern societies have taken so long to celebrate this ancient well-loved plant. In Austria each 6th of November has been used for this celebration since 1998, while in various Asian and African countries the 15th of December has been chosen and celebrated since 2005.
“Tea awakens the mind and wise thoughts. It refreshens the soul. If you feel down, tea will lift you up.”
Being that tea – just like coffee – is a drink I regularly enjoy and since it offers much more than what it has been used for throughout the ages, yesterday I started the Austrian based celebration by baking a bread with tea. Bread is not as old as tea. Humans have been making different sorts of bread since about 8,000 years. That is long enough to develop a product with thousands of varieties. The following is based on a simple ciabatta recipe.
- 500 gm flour
- 10 gm salt
- 15 gm of high quality green tea
- yeast for 500 gm flour
- 7 TS of olive oil
- about 330 ml warm water
Mix the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and tea well before adding the water. Be careful with the water, not to add too much. Grease the bread form with a bit of olive oil. Knead the ingredients well and let to rest for about 40 minutes covered with a moist towel. Knead the dough once more, oil the form anew and let the dough rest once more (covered) for another hour. Cover the bread loosely with an alumium sheet and bake it at 175 degrees for 15 minutes. After removing the sheet, continue baking further for 30 minutes.