Smoked-Tea Rubbed Steak with Mango-Ginger Salsa

July 19, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

As with most things in life (and food) there are few absolutes, and that definitely applies to this dish. Where most people will only use a savory salsa or chimichurri with beef, I LOVE this sweet-hot salsa with a great flank steak. The fact is, this salsa is ALSO terrific with chicken and seafood, but what makes it such a winning pairing with the beef is the spicy, smoked-tea rub we put on the steak. The sweet-hot mango salsa is the perfect foil for the earthy smokiness of the beef rub, it is a match made in me. - Oui, Chef —Oui, Chef

Test Kitchen Notes

This inventive and unusual recipe delivers robust, bold flavors. Oui, Chef has you rub smoky Lapsang Souchong tea and other peppery spices all over the meat an hour before cooking it. After the steak is grilled, the Asian flavors in the tea and the piquant Latin American/Mexican spices combine to create a crust on the flank steak that is both succulent and super-spicy. The meat is served with a yummy tropical-like mango ginger salsa. My testers and I especially loved how the sweet salsa tempered the spiciness of the steak. Much as we all liked this dish, we felt that the peppery spices masked the tea’s smoky flavors a bit, and when I make this again I will probably use less cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, and chipotle powder. Note: I made a quarter of the rub, and it was the perfect amount to coat a 1 1/2 pound steak. I also found it helpful to brush the steak with a little grapeseed oil before applying the rub to help it adhere to the meat. - cookinginvictoria —cookinginvictoria

What You'll Need
  • Smoked-Tea Beef Rub
  • 1 1/2 cups Lapsang Souchong tea leaves
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried chives
  • 2 tablespoons five spice powder
  • Enough flank steak to feed four people
  • Mango-Ginger Salsa
  • 2 large, ripe mangoes peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small red onion cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon sambal (chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper to taste
  1. For the spice rub, combine all ingredients in a bowl. * This recipe makes a LOT of tea rub. Feel free to halve, or even quarter the recipe if you desire. Store leftover rub in a ziploc bag in your freezer, where it will last practically forever. Note: Bulk tea leaves will generally be coarser and will therefor give you and more textured / crunchy coating on the steak. Tea pulled from tea bags will be finer and leave you with a smoother rub.
  2. For the salsa: Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  3. For the steak: Remove the steak from the fridge and rub all over with the smoked-tea spice mix. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let sit for about an hour to come to room temperature. Grill over a medium-high flame for only 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting across the grain, and serving with the mango-ginger salsa.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Summer of Eggplant
    Summer of Eggplant
  • Lizthechef
  • fiveandspice
  • Fairmount_market
  • susan g
    susan g
I am a father of five, who recently completed a two year professional hiatus during which I indulged my long held passion for cooking by moving to France to study the culinary arts and immerse myself in all things French. I earned “Le Grande Diplome” from Le Cordon Bleu, studied also at The Ritz Escoffier and Lenotre cooking schools, and completed the course offerings of the Bordeaux L’Ecole du Vin. About six months ago started "Oui, Chef", which is a food blog that exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my children a few things about cooking, and how our food choices over time effect not only our own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences through the blog, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals as a family, passing on established familial food traditions, and perhaps starting some new ones.

25 Reviews

jmhjams June 20, 2016
Have you tried this rub with chicken (on the grill)? Thanks!
zieker July 22, 2011
I've never thought to use a smokey tea like this in a in a rub! Sounds incredible, and I love sweet-spicy hot salsas with everything from beef to fish. Another great one to try. Thanks Oui, Chef!
Summer O. July 22, 2011
I'll tea smoke anything, thanks for the recipe.
Lizthechef July 20, 2011
Yet another have-to-try recipe. LOVE the rub and spicy salsa, Steve! Thumbs up!
fiveandspice July 20, 2011
This looks mind-blowingly delicious. I'm strongly feeling that you should just come over tonight and cook it for us! ;-) Barring that, I'm saving it to try myself.
Fairmount_market July 20, 2011
I love the idea of a spice rub with tea leaves. I look forward to trying this.
susan G. July 19, 2011
Mark Wendell is in Acton MA, and there should be stores selling the Hu Kwa teas. The web site doesn't have a retail list, but they ship, and you can contact them about picking it up there. I know my store sold it years ago and it was popular. Nice tins too. It's more mellow than the usual Lapsang, if I remember correctly. When I retired I was getting good quality teas from an importer in Vermont, Vermont Tea and Trading, but no Hu Kwa.
Midge July 19, 2011
What an amazing flavor combo! I'm hooked on Lapsang Souchong too. I've been drinking Hu-Kwa from Mark Wendell, which isn't as smoky as some.
Oui, C. July 19, 2011
Thanks, Midge. I'd love to try the Hu-Kwa, where do you get it around here? - S
Midge July 20, 2011
Cardullo's and Formaggio Kitchen both carry it.
Midge July 20, 2011
and they both ship!
hardlikearmour July 19, 2011
I love Lapsang Souchong! I typically get one called Pine Smoked Black made by Tao of Tea. It's got a rich smoky flavor & I bet it goes beautifully with the salsa. Gorgeous recipe!
Oui, C. July 19, 2011
Thanks, hardlikearmour. I've had the lapsang from Tao of Tea and love it! - S
Sagegreen July 19, 2011
I am lucky to have a great tea place nearby in Northampton, but they also do an online business. Mary Lou and Bob travel to hand select many of the teas they carry. Every time I visit they seem to have another book out, too:
TheWimpyVegetarian July 19, 2011
The spiciness of the rub looks like it would be a perfect combination with the mango salsa! I have the same question aargersi does - can you tell us a little about the tea leaves, and a good sub if we can't find Lapsang Souchong?
Sagegreen July 19, 2011
It's more common than you might think. If you can't find any, I will mail you and aargesi some! It is maybe like a very smokey Earl Grey? I want to try this this weekend.
susan G. July 19, 2011
About Lapsang Souchong: this tea is smoked over wood fires in traditional practice. When I first drank it, I made it at my desk at a very conventional work place. People would come over for a whiff, and say "Eeuw, it smells like creosote." They were right. I now find it too strong to brew alone, so I add a few pinches to another tea as base. One option for a substitute is a smoky Russian Caravan tea. But any place that sells bulk tea is likely to have it.
Oui, C. July 19, 2011
susan g gives a great description of the tea here. To me, it smells like a campfire (and I mean that in a good way), it IS a strong tea, but one I enjoy drinking on a cold winter day, its too heavy for summer. I find it pretty readily around here. Thanks for you lovely comment, Suzanne! - S
aargersi July 19, 2011
This looks great - we love mango salsa too - I am not familiar with that tea - is there something common and comparable so I can "taste" it in my mind?
Oui, C. July 19, 2011
Thanks, aargersi. Close your eyes and think campfire. That's the tea. - S
aargersi July 19, 2011
Got it :-)
lapadia July 19, 2011
Fabulous, Oui, Chef...thanks for sharing!!
Oui, C. July 19, 2011
Thanks, lapadia...I hope you give it a try this grilling season.
Sagegreen July 19, 2011
Beautiful. Love the rub and the hot fruity salsa.
Oui, C. July 19, 2011
Thanks, Sagegreen. Hot-fruity salsa makes just about everything taste better! - S