Last updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014 06:47pm

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Chefs are now using tea leaves to spice up savoury and sweet dishes according to trend spotters. December 8, 2013 ― AFP picChefs are now using tea leaves to spice up savoury and sweet dishes according to trend spotters. December 8, 2013 ― AFP picUNITED STATES, Dec 8 ― Mediterranean seasonings like za’atar and sumac, and alternative meats like goat, rabbit and pigeon are among some of the foods predicted to get their turn at the gastronomic spotlight in 2014.

According to trend spotters at communications firm Sterling-Rice Group in Colorado, 2014 will continue to see demand for healthy food options, while fringe foods will also enter the mainstream dining scene.

Here’s a selection of some of the top 10 food trends, as predicted by the group’s culinary consultants, a team of chefs, restaurateurs and tastemakers.

Tea leaves

Look out for tea to be used in more than just hot beverages, as chefs use the aromatic flavour profiles of black, green and other leafy teas to spice up savoury and sweet dishes.

Middle Eastern flavours

Not familiar with sumac or za’atar? Odds are you will in 2014, as experts predict that the Middle Eastern seasonings will become increasingly popular on restaurant menus.

Sumac is a tart, lemony spice commonly found in Middle Eastern cooking. Za’atar, meanwhile, could be described as the Middle Eastern equivalent of curry powder, a combination of different herbs and spices that may include sumac, sesame, thyme, oregano and coriander, depending on the region.

Poaching and steaming

Instead of steaming and poaching with plain old water, chefs will be amping up the flavour profile of dishes with poaching and steaming liquids like wine, coffee, beer, and smoke.

Seaweed

It’s not just for sushi. According to Sterling-Rice, seaweed will become increasingly popular as a snack food and an umami-rich seasoning. Think wakame salads, and kombu, the broth base for many Japanese and Korean soups.

Alternative proteins

Meats like goat, rabbit and pigeon will land on restaurant dishes as interest in small-scale, local producers continues. ― AFP-Relaxnews