Food Pairing With…Tea!!

Everybody on the planet loves to drink tea. Tea is one of those drinks which have its presence in almost all the households around the world. Being the second largest consumed beverage after water, it is always in high demand. Tea is actually more than a drink in people’s lives; it is in fact like an emotion with trails through their daily lives. This beverage is perfect for any occasion we can think of, and is perfect for the starters whether it be a common meeting, official meeting or any family function. Tea works everywhere. Yes, you read that right!

Today we are going to talk about pairing of tea with food! Isn’t it exciting?

Tea pairing with food means what is best to be consumed with the same. It is the perfect way to enhance the joy of drinking tea and enjoy the drink. Commonly used food pairing with tea is the traditional finger foods of sandwiches, scones and cakes for afternoon tea.

Have you ever enjoyed wine with food? Yes, we all must have once in a lifetime atleast. Whenever we go to a restaurant to enjoy some great dinner, you will usually see your menu items accompanied by a wine suggestion – and it definitely makes a difference! This is important because choosing the right wine increases the joy of eating the dinner but this comes with a condition. You have to choose the correct wine for the type of food you eat or else the joy turn into a disaster! There are some basic rules for the same. Red wines to accompany rich, red meat dishes. White wines to accompany white meats, fish and vegetarian dishes. Dessert wines for… well, dessert! In fact I know some people who will select their meal based on their wine preference for the evening, using the meal to accentuate the wine!

Similarly, the selection of tea is also important like wine. Although, a relatively new concept but is catching up very fast. Many of us are still just beginning to learn of the concept of pairing tea with our food. This tea pairing is an art and is evolving rapidly in the west as people are becoming more inclined towards tea due to health reasons. Tea gives good health and it is the primary reason for this inclination.

The right tea can truly enhance the taste of the food on your plate and also contribute significantly to your health.

Now the question which rises is that which tea is to be paired with what kind of food? Today we are going to be finally aware of the type of tea to be consumed with particular foods. This article is aimed at helping you to make that choice. There are some guidelines which you need to follow while you drink tea with food. These guidelines are based largely on the flavor and strength of the tea compared with the flavor and strength of the food. You should always be looking to accentuate one with the other and an ideal pairing makes both the food and the tea taste better.

Let us see some ideal tea pairs with the type of food we eat.

Black tea – tastes awesome

Black Teas with their strong flavors pair wonderfully with jovial dishes. Jovial foods here refer to the foods such as red meat (beef, lamb), pasta dishes like lasagna, pastas, English breakfast (there’s a tea for that!) and any kind of egg dish. The black tea is divided into mainly three categories in terms of food pairing i.e. Fruity, malty or earthy, and smoky.

  • Fruity black teas are best consumed with sweet dishes such as Indian sweet deserts, pastries or any food that leaves thick residual feel in the mouth. This is important because the tannins present in black tea helps to clean this residual feeling and hence increases the good taste of the sweet. Also, this makes sure that the second bite of the sweet is as tasty as the first one because it removes the sugary coating from the mouth. Hence, continuously sipping fruity black tea keeps the taste of the sweet in mouth. This drink is particularly obtained from India or Srilanka.
  • Earthy and malty teas are from China mainly, India and often from Africa also. These are mainly used with red meat or heavily flavored meats like jerk chicken, blackened meats or vegetables, mashed potatoes with gravy. The concept behind this usage is that earthy and malty teas are not sweet in nature and hence tend to be best when accompanied with thick or rich foods which are not sweet. SO, next time whenever you go for grilled chicken or mutton, just try this option out!
  • Another variety of black tea which is available is the “Smoky Black Tea.” This one comes mainly from China. They are very much intense in flavor and hence are best used with heavy foods such as flavorful meats or blackened meats. This cannot be used for lighter food and should not be used with lighter foods. This should be strictly used with heavy foods and smokiness tends to swing the balance of flavor from one extreme to the other, creating an interesting dynamic.

Green teas –Vegetarian companion

Green tea usually can be consumed with anything but it is important not use it with a heavy meal. The reason behind this is that green tea may overpower the taste of the dish which spoils the whole idea of food enjoyment. Green tea should be used with green vegetables such as steamed vegetables, vegetarian sushi and other foods such as brown rice, noodles, stir fry, and salads. These foods naturally complement the taste of green tea. You may note that Chinese usually consume green tea heavily with almost all the meals of the day.

There are three types of green tea generally used with different types of food.

Vegetal Green Teas: This green tea is generally used with seafood because of its fresh and grassy flavor. This property of this green tea accentuates the flavor of the sea food and hence makes the seafood highly delicious. This green tea can used with various varieties of sea food and can be consumed with all the meals irrespective of anything.

Smoky Green Teas: These green teas have a smoky flavor in them. The examples of this are the strong teas such as the Gunpowder or Precious Eyebrow. These green teas go with a variety of foods which are stronger in flour than the seafood but lighter than red meats or similar strong foods. These don’t go well with sweetened food as it tends to make the tea bitterer and hence avoid this tea with the sweet food. Ideally, this tea should be combined with chicken, French fries, potato and other root vegetables. This can also be combined with your delicious pizza or lightly fried turkey.

Fruity Green Teas: Now these green teas are best used with chicken and turkey which are usually light in taste but not with the red meats. These are also used as iced teas due to the light natural sweetness. They are also used with salads such as vegetable salads, fruit salads, sandwiches, unsweetened pastries of all kinds like croissants, wholewheat bread, Panini’s, etc.

Oolong tea – The perfect tea for grilled food

  • Oolong tea has altogether a different type of taste as different varieties of oolong taste different and some tend to be smokier and richer than others. The flavor and taste of these oolongs lie between black and green tea. This is the main reason that I can be sipped with a variety of foods. You can try oolong tea with grilled food and also with desserts. It simply goes with every type of food!
  • Although, Oolong tea is available in many varieties but we will discuss only about the main which are consumed worldwide and are more common. There are mainly 2 types of Oolong Tea – “Light oolongs” and “dark oolongs.” Light oolongs like Tie Kwan Yin (Iron Goddess) have a very different flavor profile than dark oolongs such as the Wuyi Rock. Light oolongs are fragrant, sweet, aromatic, and generally floral, while dark oolongs are more full-bodied, smoky, and strong, although not as strong as black teas.

Light Oolongs: These oolongs are light floral and sweet in taste. It is best used with sweet & salty combination such as crackers, baked chips, etc and is excellent for an evening or midday snack time.

Dark Oolongs: Dark oolongs are excellent when combined with many types of pastries, pancakes with natural maple syrup, fried or baked light meats, medium rare to rare red meats, and many desserts. They also go well with salmon, smoked meats and meat-based appetizer plates.

White tea – Drink it with proud!

  • White tea is known to be the least processed of all with very light, delicate and sophisticated flavor profile. The tea generally has peachy and floral notes or both. The perfect way to enjoy white tea is to drink it on own which tends to open up our mind and appetite.
  • White tea is very special and is very costly often. It should be mainly used with very light food with very light flavors. Very sweet food cannot be taken with white tea as it may accentuate the taste of white tea since the latter is sweet in taste. You can combine white tea with undressed salads but not fruit salads. The natural flavors in the fruit will destroy the flavor of white tea. So, best is a basic salad.

Final Verdict

The concept of food pairing with tea is evolving rapidly and people have started to gain interest in the same. This is growing rapidly across the world, especially in the west. Not only pairing tea with food, but including it as an ingredient in curries, desserts and even cocktails is becoming increasingly popular.

There are many restaurants across worlds which have introduced the concept of tea pairing in their menu. This trend is thought to have originated from China as the Chinese people have tea with almost all the meals. One reason for the popularity of this concept is due to the fact that tea provides good health and as more people are becoming health conscious, pairing tea becomes easy with foods. Last but not the least, great food and tea pairings will enhance the flavors of both and gives us a joyous way of eating.

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One Reply to “Food Pairing With…Tea!!”

  1. Maryam Akerley says: Reply

    I have been checking out many of your stories and i can state pretty

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