Tea-smoked chicken breasts recipe

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10 min


30 min

You can do a lot more with tea than just make a morning cuppa. Heat them in a foil-lined pan to create a wonderfully fragrant smoke that infuses chicken with a delicate smoky aroma. In this recipe, first coat skinless chicken breasts with thyme, chillies and sugar, then gently smoke over a mixture of tea leaves, rice and brown sugar. The result is a pungent, hot coating not unlike jerk chicken with amazing soft and juicy meat.


  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless
  • For the coating:
  • A little olive oil
  • 1tbsp dried thyme
  • 1tbsp black peppercorns, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • 1tsp dried chillies, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • ½tsp sea salt
  • For the smoking mixture:
  • Black tea leaves from 14-16 bags
  • 4tbsp long-grain rice
  • 2tbsp brown sugar


  • Put all the ingredients for the coating in a dish and roll the chicken breasts in it. Set aside in the fridge for a couple of hours.

  • When you’re ready to cook, carefully put the chicken breasts in a sieve or colander or steaming rack.

  • Line a large saucepan or wok with tin foil. Mix the ingredients for the the smoking mixture together and add to the bottom of the foil. Put the chicken (in the sieve/colander) on top of the pan and tightly cover with more tin foil.

  • Put the heat on the hob to the lowest possible setting and cook the chicken for 30 mins. After that time, remove the foil and leave the chicken to cool a little.

  • Once cool, carve the chicken on the diaganal into 0.5cm thick slices.

  • For the stir-fried noodles and vegetables, cook the noodles in a large pan of boiling water for 4-5 mins (or according to pack instructions). Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.
    Add the oil to a large frying pan or wok and stir-fry the sugar snaps and peppers for 4-5 mins until tender, then add the mushrooms.

  • Stir-fry for a further minute before adding 2 tbsp black bean sauce and 1 tbsp hot bean sauce and 1 tsp sugar. Stir, then return the noodles to the pan.

Top tip for making Tea-smoked chicken breasts

Serve with Japanese soba noodles, which are quite delicate and soft, cooked in boiling water for a couple of minute, then stir-fried with mushrooms, red pepper and sugar snap peas in a black bean sauce.

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