Those who enter in the world of pairings are entering a new dimension of taste.
Knowing which foods pair well with particular teas is a fine art. Food pairing is often portrayed as a staple of the high class and the cultured living. Although the world of wine pairing may be the more popular, the world of tea and food pairings has plenty to offer.
Pairing can bring out particular flavors out of both the food and the tea. It’s as much a hobby as it is a treat. Here are a few combinations to introduce you to the world of tea and food pairings.
Meat is a particularly diverse category for tea pairing. Much of the decision comes down to not what type of meat you pair it with, such as pork or chicken or fish. Rather, it is much more important to consider how the meat is seasoned and what method is used to cook it.
For example a lemon-herb chicken may pair great with darjeeling or oolong tea, while a fried chicken would pair better with assam or nilgiri for its briskness and mildly malty taste.
For grilled meats dragonwell tea would be ideal due to its toasty aroma. When looking for teas to pair with meats you’re looking for a tea with more intensity and flavor to compliment the meats.
Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and veggies require a much lighter tea than their meat counterparts. While heavier teas such as gunpowder and dragonwell tend to go great with a large diversity of meats, a softer and lighter tea would benefit the fruits and veggies best.
Remember, you’re looking for a tea that’s fragrant and potentially floral, and refreshing. I find that white teas work best for those criteria. Peaches and apricots are a popular fruit to pair with white tea. I would also recommend making a cucumber salad, pairing it with your favorite white tea, and adding a few tiny drops of honey for the smallest bit of sweetness.
If you’re looking for something a bit stronger than white I’d highly recommend oolong tea, especially for apricots.
There is tremendous diversity in the desert world. Darjeeling tea tends to go great a variety of cream deserts, from cheesecake to crème brûlée (that’s always my first choice). With chocolate cake, you ought to select a heavier tea.
For a basic chocolate cake a smoky black tea would be phenomenal. A simple earl grey would pair great here. However it would be best not to pair a black tea with an especially sweet chocolate. In that situation I would reach for a light oolong tea to not overpower the sweetness and to bring out the flavors in both the oolong and the chocolate.
Something with a strong vanilla flavor would pair great with Ceylon, which brings out the full-bodied flavor of the crylon.
Herbs and spices
If you feel like getting creative with your pairings use these as a quick guide to flavors: Assam and yunnan go great with chilis, while sencha and gunpowder pair fantastically with garlic.
The refreshing flavor of mint is really brought out by darjeeling and yuny ting oolong. Cinnamon, a staple of teas thanks of its warm aroma is complimented by yunnan, assam, and autumnal darjeeling.
Although cheese and wine pairings are absolute staples of upper-class eating, there are plenty of tea and cheese pairings that are worth exploring.
The smoothness and creaminess would blend superbly with various teas. Kathy Yl Chan at Eater.com recommends the following pairings: white tea + ricotta, green tea + Flory’s Truckle cheddar, oolong + Ewephoria sheep milk gouda and Fromager d’Affinois, black tea + chiriboga blue, matcha + tomme crayeuse.
All of these sound like great opportunities to refine your pallet and experience new taste combinations.
This one may seem strange at first. What do you do, pour the booze in with the tea? Should you have a shot of alcohol at the ready or a glass on the side? Either, really.
And actually, I’m a fan of pouring the booze in with the tea, so long as you make sure to not overpower the tea.
However the more refined and experienced drinkers might use the sipping method. A smoky drink like brandy would pair fantastically with a smoky tea. An English breakfast tea would work extremely well here.
For the more daring tea lovers, it’s said that an ideal tea-alcohol pairing is lapsang enjoyed with either a port or a chardonnay brings out the best of both drinks.
This is a personal favorite of mine. For those unfamiliar, umami is said to be the fifth flavor, the other four being sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness. It is most often found is in the controversial additive MSG, which has an unfair but understandable reputation of being unhealthy or potentially harmful.
Regardless of its controversy, it is delicious. And anyone who attempts to pair tea with umami is in for a treat.
I tend to go for the traditional approach, pairing sushi with a classic green tea, but you can go with anything from California rolls to my absolute favorite: the crunchy roll! The green tea and the umami in the sushi will combine into a particularly savory taste. It’s an absolute treat.
So if you have a salty, sweet or salty-sweet palate any of these tea and food pairings will do the trick. They’re especially fun to try at a house warming party, birthday or an quiet evening at home!
Feel free to mix and match and let us know what pairings worked best for you!