Smoky Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

A plate of food with chicken and vegetables

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These Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks may sound a little odd, but trust me, these are good! Tea might seem a bit strange to use in a marinade, but it adds a delicious depth of flavour to these drums.

Smoky Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

Delicious Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are a favourite at our house for grilling and baking. They cook quickly and get that nice crispy skin. And crispy chicken skin is everyone’s guilty pleasure, right? Drumsticks are also moist and juicy and easy to eat with your fingers. Who doesn’t love finger food? Kids always seem to love drumsticks. In addition, drumsticks are economical, too.

A close up of grilled chicken drumsticks

Tea Blend Barbecue Rub

I recently received an awesome gift from the lovely Robin Hairsine at Steeped Tea, containing a great selection of steeped tea blends, including some that are formulated for grilling. I do love tea and sip on it pretty much daily. But, I’m new to using tea in a savoury dish.

The Smoky Tea-Aki is a of blend black tea, chilli pepper, salt, black pepper and spices. I was intrigued to try out tea on the grill for this tea marinated chicken dish and went to work. Drumsticks on the grill are great since they don’t take too long to cook and always turn out crisp and juicy.

This tea blend smelled amazing. I rubbed the drumsticks with a little oil and two heaping tablespoons of the Smoky Tea Aki rub. Plus, a tablespoon of brown sugar, and put in the fridge for an hour. The Smoky Tea smells amazing. And the chicken drumsticks came off the grill with a beautiful colour, nice crispy skin and juicy, tender chicken.

Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

The drumsticks were deliciously smoky with a little kick of heat. And so perfect for a simple summer dinner with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. A tomato and arugula salad rounded it out with just a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar. 

Although it’s great, you don’t need to have this particular grilling blend. You can still use regular black tea leaves, chilli pepper, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper to get a similar effect. (See proportions in the recipe notes). Most importantly, the star of this dish is the tea marinade.

I’m a new fan of grilling with tea and excited to try out the other tea blends in Steeped Tea’s grilling collection.

A tray of grilled chicken

Smoky Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

These easy to make chicken drumsticks are rubbed in a dry marinade of black tea, chili powder, and smoked paprika. 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Barbecue
Servings 4 servings
Calories 224 kcal


  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp  olive oil
  • 2 heaping tbsp Steeped Tea Smoky Tea-Aki Rub
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • lime wedges
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


  • Rinse chicken drumsticks and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Rub with oil, then with tea blend, then with brown sugar, and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
  • Heat grill on high, then turn it to medium-low and grill chicken drumsticks, turning often.
  • The brown sugar will give a nice char, but be careful not to burn.
  • I like to brown the drumsticks on the direct heat, and then turn off one of the burners, put the lid down, and cook the chicken with indirect heat.
  • The drumsticks should take about 30 minutes to cook through.
  • If you aren't sure, a thermometer should read 180 in the plumpest part of the drumstick.
  • Remove from grill and scatter with chopped cilantro and wedges of fresh lime for squeezing.


*If you can't find the tea marinade, you can make your own by combining:
1/4 cup black tea leaves, 
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp course salt
1/2 tsp black pepper.


Serving: 2drumsticksCalories: 224kcalFat: 12.3g
Tried this recipe? What changes did you make?Let us know how it was!

A close up of grilled chicken drumsticks





5 thoughts on “Smoky Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

  1. Yum, Yum, YUM! I love this idea for drumsticks Colleen. Well done, I’ve always wanted to experiment more with tea and cooking. Great photos too. Outstanding post.

  2. I love making chicken drumsticks on the grill… they’re so flavourful and versatile, and oh so affordable.
    I’ve never heard of this Tea-Aki rub before, but I am very intrigued by the idea of a tea-based rub… I’m looking forward to trying this out the next time I spot a good deal on drumsticks at the store!

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