Contrary to what you might guess, wood chips aren't the answer.
Even at 500 degrees, a home oven can’t get hot enough to generate enough smoke from wood chips to flavor the food. Instead, our secret ingredient for success is tea leaves.
We were inspired by Chinese cooks, who smoke a variety of foodstuffs over black tea. Smoky-tasting Lapsang souchong tea, which is cured over smoldering pine or cypress boughs, proved to be the right choice; grinding the leaves to a powder maximizes the surface area of the tea.
With the oven set to high heat to start and a baking sheet containing the tea leaves placed on a hot baking stone, smoke is generated within minutes.