This dish is great for entertaining. It is best made the day before serving for two reasons: First, any fat that rises to the top of the braising liquid may be skimmed off easily when cold, and second, the flavour of the tea and the vegetable components settle in and marry overnight, producing a mellow, multilayered taste profile.
2 ¼ pounds lean brisket of beef
Salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil, enough to coat the pan for searing
½ bunch celery, washed well and cut into ½ inch diagonal slices
1 ½ cups thinly slices yellow onions
4 carrots, washed and cut into ½ inch chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
4 cloves garlic smashed then finely chopped
4 tablespoons Keemun tea leaves, or another type of black Asian tea
4 tablespoons additional Keemun tea leaves for sauce
2 litres water
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup ketchup
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Salt and pepper the brisket and sear in hot olive oil in a heavy skillet until the surface is browned. Turn only once, after about 5 minutes. Place the brisket in a heavy roasting pan and scatter the vegetables over the meat.
Brew the 4 tablespoons of tea in cool (170 F) water for 30 minutes. Sieve out and discard leaves. Combine the brewed tea, brown sugar and ketchup in a bowl to dissolve all the ingredients thoroughly, then pour over the brisket. Cover the pan with a lid and place in the oven for 2 ½ hours, or until tender. Cool, then refrigerate overnight.
The next day, skim off any fat that collects on the surface of the braising liquid. Pour the de-fatted liquid into a heavy saucepan and cook over high heat until it is reduced by half. Add 4 tablespoons of keemun tea leaves and return liquid to the boil. Remove from the heat immediately. Pour the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve to remove leaves. Adjust seasonings in the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
With a sharp carving knife, slice meat across the grain into thin slices. Place decoratively on the plate along with vegetables. Drizzle sauce over each portion.