Brining chicken not only adds moisture to the chicken, making it nice and plump, it also helps prevent it from drying out when you cook it. The result is a delicious, moist and juicy chicken. Also tea, which contains a lot of tannins, naturally tenderizes meat and enhances its natural flavor.
Make ahead: The Chicken needs to be refrigerated in the brine for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
1 gallon water
7 rounded teaspoons of black loose-leaf tea* or 7 regular tea bags
1 cup kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large lemons each cut lengthwise into quarters
4-6 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks or a combination of the two.
2-3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
The Brine: Bring the water to a boil in large pan. Add the tea, and then remove the pan from the heat. Add the salt and granulated sugar, stirring well until dissolved. Allow the brine to cool completely. (Never try to brine chicken in warm water or you will create a bacteria farm that could make you sick.) Once the brine is cold, discard the tea bags or strain out the tea leaves.
Transfer the brine to a 2-gallon food storage bag or a pan deep enough to hold the brine and the chicken. (The pan should be made of a non-reactive material like glass or stainless steel.)
Add four of the lemon wedges and the chicken to the brine. Make sure the chicken is completely submerged. If you need to, place something heavy over it to keep it from floating to the surface. Seal the bag. Keep the chicken cold while you brine it! Refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the brine. Once you’re done with the chicken brine, throw it out. Don’t keep it to reuse it for anything. It had raw chicken floating in it and it’s not safe to use.
Pat the meat dry with paper towels
In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and paprika, then sprinkle the mixture all over the meat.
Place chicken and the 4 remaining lemon wedges on the grill. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Turn the meat over and continue to cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken’s juices run clear and the skin is crisped and mahogany brown.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Squeeze the juice from the grilled lemon wedges over the chicken.
*We suggest you try using a Darjeeling or Ceylon tea to give a liveliness and added complexity to the chicken.
Darjeeling: Darjeeling is a district in West Bengal, India, famous for producing tea. One of India’s most expensive teas, the flavors of Darjeelings are very complex. Often referred to as “the champagne of teas” it is revered by connoisseurs across the globe. Some would describe the taste as nutty; others find it reminds them of Muscat grapes.
Ceylon: Ceylon tea is the common name for tea grown on the island of Sri Lanka which, prior to independence from the British, was called Ceylon. Teas from this country are generally known for their straightforward liquors and full bodied flavors. They are often described as “elegant” because of this quality.