Daring Cooks: Oolong Turkey Breast

Way back when I was a nascent food blogger (of a now defunct blog more embarrassing to look at than middle school photos), only just discovering the wonderful world of culinary media, I was a member of Daring Bakers. It was an amazing community that pushed me to try things I had yet to make like flourless chocolate cake and tuiles (neither of which are nearly as intimidating now as they were then). But then I got a job – my dream job, where I professionally lived and breathed food – and my blog fell to the wayside, along with my membership to Daring Bakers. You can imagine my excitement when I began blogging again to see that not only was Daring Bakers still around (and my, how it has grown!), but they had expanded to Daring Cooks. Now there’s something I could really get into.

So after a many year hiatus, I’m back in the Daring community and excited to be taking part in my first Daring Cooks challenge. Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry. As an aside, you may recognize Simply Cooked as the founder of the awesome Kitchen Reader online book club I recently joined. But back to the challenge, how fun is this?

Sarah provided three possible recipes we could try, which all looked amazing: tea eggs (which I’ve always kind of wanted to make), a lovely green tea and tofu soup, and a tempting stew. But I started to look up recipes and got a little over excited. I considered Tea-Soaked Chicken, Green Tea Teriyaki Chicken, and Green Tea Rice from here and here before settling on this Oolong-Brined Turkey Breast. It’s from a book called Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold and Lisa Stern (who knew there were so many tea cookbooks?!), much of which is available for free preview on Google Books.

I settled on this recipe because I knew I wanted to use Oolong tea. My wonderful friend Beth brought me back Da Hong Pao tea from her trip to China this summer, and a bit of research told me that this is one of the most renowned Chinese teas and one of the most special kinds of oolong tea available. I had never thought to use tea as a marinade, but what a brilliant idea. It imparts a lovely, delicate flavor to the meat.

The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of salt as well to make this a brine instead of a marinade, but in Israel our kosher birds are already plenty salty. I don’t believe the turkey breast needs the salt as the marinade is flavorful enough on its own, but use your judgement. Know your meat.

This would make a lovely addition to the Thanksgiving table, something a little simpler – and different – than roasting an entire turkey. I roasted sweet potatoes in the pan alongside the turkey for a festive, filling one-pot meal.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Oolong Turkey Breast
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
This turkey breast, which is marinated in oolong tea brewed with aromatic spices makes for an elegant main, whether at the Thanksgiving table or any night of the week.
Recipe Type: Entree
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
  • 2 quarts water
  • ¼ cup loose oolong tea leaves
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 (4- to 6- pound/1.8- to 2.7-kilogram) boneless turkey breast
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  1. Heat the water in a large pot or saucepan until steaming but not quite boiling. Add the tea and brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the peppercorns, ginger, cloves, mustard seeds, and star anise.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow the marinade cool to room temperature (be sure it is cool before adding the turkey - you don't want to cook it. If you're in a rush put it in the fridge.).
  4. Put the turkey breast in a large bowl and pour the marinade over (or, to save dishes, add the turkey breast to the pot).
  5. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  6. When ready to roast the turkey, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
  7. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the turkey breast and sear until golden-brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  8. Remove the turkey from the pan and place it on a rack in a roasting pan.
  9. Bake until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F/70°C on an instant-read thermometer. The time required for this will depend on the weight of the breast, roughly 15 minutes per pound/455 grams, or 60 to 90 minutes.
  10. Remove the turkey from the oven. Allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
Kosher meat, gluten free

Linked up at Tastetastic Thursdays over at A Little Nosh

46 thoughts on “Daring Cooks: Oolong Turkey Breast

  1. Manu

    Ohhhhh wow! I love this Katherine! What a fantastic job for this challenge! I loved cooking with tea… so different and there are so many dishes I would love to try! This is definitely one of them!!! :-))))

    • Katherine

      Thanks Manu!! It was my first month participating in Daring Cooks and it was so fun! I also really enjoyed cooking with tea – can’t wait to try more recipes!

  2. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Hi Katherine! I’ve had smoked tea duck at Chinese restaurant, which is pretty famous, but I love how you made with turkey. I’ve never had turkey version and this is just beautiful! Oolong tea is one of my favorite and I really love how you prepared this dish!

  3. kitchenriffs

    I drink tea every morning, but I’ve never cooked with it. I know, why have I been wasting my life? Sounds like a great flavoring for turkey – and appropriately seasonal! Nice garnish job on the photo of the turkey on the platter. Fun recipe – thanks.

    • Katherine

      This was my first time using tea in a marinade and it really added a nice flavor! I think it works especially well with chicken or turkey, where the flavor can come through. Thanks Kiran!

  4. Delishhh

    Love daring bakers and cooks – i used to do the bakers and it was so much fun. Just ended up being too much on my plate right now. This looks fantastic – i am all for making smaller turkey things than roasting a big old turkey that is not going to be eaten up 🙂

    • Katherine

      I can completely understand it being too much on your plate 😉 That’s why I had to stop way back when. It definitely is fun though! Thanks, Ewa! This is way simpler than roasting a whole bird and I swear still feeds an army!

  5. mjskit

    What a wonderful marinade! I love the use of the tea and all the great spices. I’ve used teas in sweet dishes, but never savory. The oolong sounds perfect for turkey! Beautiful dish!

  6. Liz

    What an amazing turkey dish! It looks moist and delicious (your photos are beautiful)! And just in time for our US Thanksgiving 🙂

    • Katherine

      Thank you Liz! It was indeed moist and delicious. And I thought it would make a great Thanksgiving dish for anyone who doesn’t want to roast a whole turkey. 🙂

  7. Jo Ann

    The turkey looks absolutely delectable Your photos are fabulous. Nice way to make a turkey moist, sweet and flavourful. Also, welcome to Daring Cooks! Cheers and happy cooking.

  8. Sarah, Simply Cooked

    Oh, I love the idea of oolong tea with mustard seeds, anise, and cloves – genius! I am impressed and imagine that this would be impressive for guests yet it’s so simple. Thank you very much for participating this month! Welcome back to the Daring family. 🙂

    • Katherine

      Thank you Sarah! The tea and spices made for a really lovely marinade that lent a beautiful flavor to the turkey. I think it would be great for guests as well! Thanks again for a great challenge, it was so fun!

  9. Liz

    No reason to be ashamed of your first blogging attempt! We all have a few wonky early posts up there 😀 It’s part of the process.

  10. Reese@SeasonwithSpice

    Hi katherine – I like your innovative twist to a traditional turkey dish. It got me thinking about our association of flavors and foods. Since Oolong tea is such a Chinese thing, I wonder if my brain will register the dish as Chinese or fusion or western. Would be wonderful to do a test on this. Anyhow, I think it’s a great fun idea! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Katherine

      Thank you Reese! So interesting. I can’t say that it registered as Chinese for me, but it definitely was not the standard American turkey. It would be fun to do some sort of test with a bunch of ingredients/flavors used in totally different ways and having people record their associations or something.

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