Turkey with Lapsang Souchong Tea


We chose this twist on Thanksgiving turkey because we wanted to build on the earthier tones in our 2018 Lange Estate Pinot Noir. The effect is both subtle and elegant, adding depth of flavor where it’s not quite expected. When we first tested this recipe, we added the tea (Lapsang Souchong is a black tea that is traditionally dried over a pinewood fire) as a dry rub along with copious amounts of butter, but found the flavors to be a bit too subtle. Here, we’re using the tea as both a brine and a rub. The combination adds tenderness to the bird as well as really compelling flavors of smoky earthiness.

Holiday Turkey with Lapsang Souchong Tea



1         gallon water

1/4    cup Lapsang Souchong loose tea

4         rosemary sprigs

1         cup coarse kosher salt

1         cup packed brown sugar

2         lemons, thinly sliced

2         oranges, thinly sliced

1         tablespoon black peppercorns

4         cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2         extra-large oven roasting bag


1        12- to 14-pound turkey, fresh or fully thawed

1         stick butter, melted

6         bags lapsang souchong tea, finely ground in a clean coffee grinder

freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

A bouquet of fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, or Italian parsley for garnish plus

an assortment of fresh pears, apples, persimmons, grapes or grape leaves to decorate the platter


Large roasting pan.


Remove the turkey from its packaging, then remove the giblets and neck and reserve for gravy, if desired. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water, set aside.

In a large stockpot, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the tea bags and rosemary sprigs and steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags and rosemary. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the salt, brown sugar, lemons, oranges, peppercorns, and garlic. Cool until the mixture reaches room temperature. 

Double up the roasting bags. Place the turkey in the bag, breast-side down. Refrigerate for up to 48 hours. 

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Remove the turkey from the brine, place it in the roasting pan, and pat it dry with paper towels.

Drizzle melted butter over the top of the bird, sprinkle the Lapsang Souchong tea over the top, and gently pat the tea into the skin so that it will adhere. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, truss the legs with kitchen twine.

Place the turkey in a large roasting pan, fold the wings under the body, then pour 1 tablespoon salt into the palm of your hand, and rub the body cavity of the bird with the salt. Stuff 1/2 lemon into the cavity. Drizzle the bird with olive oil, then sprinkle the Armaan blend evenly over the top, and gently pat it into the flesh so that it will adhere. Season with salt and pepper, and if desired, truss the turkey legs with kitchen twine.  

Roast uncovered for 90 minutes. Then baste with melted butter. If the legs begin to brown too much, cover with aluminum foil. Continue roasting, and basting with the remaining butter and pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F. Total roasting time should for a 12-14 pound turkey be 3 to 3 3/4 hours.

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