Drinking a cup of tea while enjoying meals has been popular among Indonesians. Yet, to include tea as an ingredient in dishes is another thing.
In an attempt to introduce tea as the key ingredient in dishes, a tea-maker in Central Java has invited 50 cooks to take part in a tea culinary creation competition on Thursday. The cooks will battle each other to create the finest side dishes using tea as the main ingredient.
The unconventional use of tea may make you think this is the latest installment of popular TV show MasterChef Indonesia, which often requires its contestants to create dishes using out-of-the-box ingredients.
Lily Gunawan, director of the tea maker PT Gunung Subur Sejahtera, said Wednesday that the competition, which will be the pre-event of the Solo International Tea Festival, would be something new as Indonesians were not accustomed of using tea for cooking.
“People will learn the benefits of tea, apart from its main purpose to make beverages,” she told the press at the company’s green house in Karanganyar, Surakarta [Solo]. “It will be the first time for our company to host the competition.”
The company encouraged the participants, who come from various backgrounds, to make only traditional snacks instead of modern dishes to preserve the nation’s culinary culture. The company also aimed at promoting tea as the new ingredient for creating hearty meals.
According to tea expert Umar Syarif, Indonesians should be encouraged to consume more good quality tea. Umar said that tea was not considered as a valuable commodity in many areas of Indonesia, except in Java.
As Indonesians are still reluctant to buy high quality tea, most of the products are sent to Europe. “First-class tea leaves are not sold here. Unlike coffee, Indonesians are reluctant to pay high prices for tea,” he said.
Umar took an example of the white tea, a tea variant with the highest level of antioxidants and is produced with high-level difficulty, which prices could reach up to Rp 2 million (US$208.33) per kilogram.
Indonesia, together with China, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya, is known as the world’s top producer of tea leaves. To strengthen Indonesia’s popularity as a top tea-maker country, Surakarta city administration will hold the Solo International Tea Festival from Oct. 12 to Oct. 14 at three locations: Loji Gandrung, the official residence of Surakarta mayor, the city hall, and Ngarsopuro market.
“It is the first tea festival in the country,” said the event’s committee Kridoyono. Nine countries will participate in the festival including: Japan, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The event was initiated by Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the former Surakarta Mayor and Jakarta Governor-elect. (han/lfr)