This may at first seem like a weird recipe/post for a tea blog, but hey, finding the most unique ways to use tea is one of the main goals for The Cup of Life. In case you haven’t heard of coconut bacon before, it is essentially coconut flakes that are coated in a sauce to recreate a bacon flavour. I first saw Cookie+Kate’s Coconut Bacon recipe and I finally found a way to recreate it with tea, of course. So, get ready to sprinkle tea bacon on everything!
I’ll continue by saying I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, however (and here’s where I might get some gasps!) I don’t enjoy bacon at all. The only time I have ever enjoyed it were as crispy bacon bits on top of salads and soups so that is why this recipe interested me. Also, my boyfriend is a vegetarian so I’m often making meatless meals for us to try together.
There’s a somewhat silly story that follows me finding Cookie+Kate’s Coconut Bacon recipe. While there are many coconut bacon recipes out there that are a bit different, they all involved one main ingredient, liquid smoke. Earlier last year when I first came across these recipes I shied away because my first thought was “What in the world is liquid smoke?!” and I didn’t feel like searching for it in grocery stores. Without looking into it, the thought of it sounded quite artificial I didn’t want to try and make the fake bacon (or “facon” as I like to call it) if I had to search for it all over the place.
Fast forward to 2016, I was in the grocery store grabbing items for a salad when the thought of coconut bacon came to mind again. I knew some of the basic ingredients I needed so I picked them up and figured I had whatever else was needed at home already. When I came back home, I realized I forgot about the liquid smoke. I knew it wasn’t the type of ingredient I could just omit and pray it turns out. I needed to make sure the coconut flakes would have a nice smoky aroma and flavour similar to bacon.
That’s when it hit me. Lapsang Souchong.
How could I forget about this wonderful tea that I always express is the best tea to have in your kitchen cupboards?! It was definitely a face palm moment since it took this long to realize I’ve had a more true, more natural form of “liquid smoke” at home all along. I am definitely forcing all of my vegetarian/vegan friends to invest in some great quality Lapsang Souchong for cooking meat free meals now. Trust me, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Lapsang Souchong is a Chinese black tea that has been dried over pine wood fires. This gives it the rich and smoky notes it’s known for. Ironically, I’ve also heard some tea tasters share that they get bacon notes as well. If you want an example of the aroma, think of a campfire. A strong steep is needed for this recipe so we can really pick up on the characteristics of this tea in the coconut bacon. I started by steeping 2 teaspoons of the Lapsang Souchong in half cup of water for approximately 5 minutes and continued on with the other ingredients.
If you’re looking for a few great Lapsang Souchong recommendations, I really enjoy Teavivre’s, Tealish’s and Adagio’s. While I have yet to try Joseph Wesley’s I have also heard great things about that one.
*Note: My grocery store does not carry large coconut flakes. The coconut flakes I had to work with are smaller than the ones Cookie+Kate used in her Coconut Bacon recipe. They still worked out perfectly and just resemble smaller like bacon bits. If you can find larger coconut flakes, use them.
- 3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp lapsang souchong tea (steeped and cooled)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- pinch of salt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the oven is warming, whisk together soy sauce, lapsang souchong tea, maple syrup and smoked paprika in a mixing bowl.
- Toss in the unsweetened coconut flakes and gently mix together until they are evenly coated.
- On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread out the coated coconut flakes and place them in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Be sure to check on them and toss every 5 minutes as they can burn easily.
- Once the flakes have reached a crunchy consistency, remove from oven and sprinkle with a pinch of salt (optional). Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Store in a mason jar or air tight container in the fridge. Top your salads, soups and more with these tea infused bacon bites. They can last quite a while if stored properly, but they are almost impossible to try to save. I dare you to try not to snack on them.
- To prepare the strong brew: Steep 2 teaspoons of Lapsang Souchong black tea in half cup of water for 5 minutes.