Pairing Tea With Food
Mastering the art of pairing tea with food is just as important as knowing how to pick the wine for a delicious meal, get it right and the tea will not only balance but even lift the flavors in your food.
In our Tea & Food Pairing section we try and provide some interesting ideas for you about pairing tea with some of our favorite foods and spices. Pretty much like wine picking the right Tea & Food can turn a regular lunch/dinner into a exceptional culinary experience.
Matching your teas with food
The most versatile tea to pair with any food or dessert is Darjeeling. It goes well with just about everything; perhaps that’s another reason it deserves to be called the champagne of teas.
BLACK TEAS are bold in taste and fragrance and the most pronounced tannins, so it’s indicated to pair it with foods which are spicy and meat based. With their robust flavours they pair well with hearty, rich foods such as roast meats, spicy lamb dishes or a heavy pasta like lasagna. Pastries also taste excellent when served with a cup of black tea alongside.
Fruity Black Teas – usually made in India and Sri Lanka – work well with sweet desserts, as the high concentration of tannins in these beverages cleanse the residual mouth-feel and enhance the sweetness of foods.
GREEN TEAS has a subtle vegetative flavour and with their earthy, vegetative palettes, it pairs well with mild flavored foods, like seafood, fish or chicken. Salads are also a good fit for this type of tea, and if you’re into fruits, melon is a good option. Rice tastes better when served with a cup of green tea alongside. However, keep in mind that green tea has three main flavor profiles – vegetal, smoky and fruity, and each of these accentuate the taste of certain foods in a more pleasant way.
WHITE TEAS has a very subtle, silky flavor, so if you pair it with strong foods, you’ll miss the natural sweetness of this beverage, as it will be overwhelmed by the food’s aroma. This category of tea is the most delicate one, so it should be paired only with lightly flavored foods, such as plain vegetable salads with no dressing, mild cheeses and desserts.
YELLOW TEAS are a rather rare category of tea. Quite similar to green tea in appearance and flavor but typically without the grassiness of some green teas. Softer in taste, silky even, yet with a surprising note of fermentation. Yellow teas make for the perfect match for raw seafood, like oysters.
OOLONG TEAS have a more complex aroma, ranging between green and black teas, so they can be paired with a wider range of foods, from lighter fish dishes to grilled meats. In general, oolongs are divided into two main categories – light and dark teas, so when pairing this beverage with foods, it’s good to keep in mind the following:
Light oolong teas go best with scallops, sweet rich seafood and lobster. Fragrant, aromatic and usually floral, they should be combined with foods that can bring out the floral notes from these beverages. Yes, combinations of sweet and salty flavors can also lead to interesting culinary experiences, so you can also try pairing light oolongs with crackers or light salted snacks.
Dark oolongs have a more prominent flavor, so they work better with stronger foods, like grilled ones. Duck meat, salmon, trout and bass dishes are good choices for this beverage, and smoked meat or meat-based appetizer plates can also bring out the flavor of dark oolongs. As for sweets, pastries and pancakes made with maple syrup are usually good pairs for this type of tea.
The Indian Sub-Continent drinks and loves Chai so Masala Chai or the Spiced Tea is a household favourite. The traditional Masala Chai is a spiced beverage brewed with different proportions of warming spices. Masala Chai has five basic components namely: water, tea leaves, milk, sugar, and spices which makes the Tea a strong and a spicy beverage. Enjoyed especially during the cold winter months, a cup of Hot Masala Chai pairs well with many deep fried Indian snacks and spicy food like Aloo Parathas, Pakoras (Fritters), Samosas or cutlets and any namkeens.