Much like wine pairing, mastering the art of pairing tea with food can truly enhance one’s meal. And you don’t need to be a tea connoisseur to pair the right tea with the optimal meal. You can just go by your taste buds. The idea behind tea pairing is to enhance both the taste of the dish and chosen tea. The trick lies in figuring out the best combination that compliments and accentuates the flavor of the dish and the aroma of the tea.
Following are some tips from one of the world’s leading tea experts, BOH Tea, on how to expertly pair tea with various types of meals and treats.
The one with the most robust flavor and pronounced tannins, black tea is best paired with full flavored foods like spicy dishes and meat. Pastries also taste amazing when served with a cup of black tea.
But, there are several types of black tea…
Fruity black tea works well with sweet desserts because its high concentration of tannins cleanses the residual mouth-feel and enhances the sweetness of the dish.
Smoky black teas are very strong and should be combined with intensely flavored foods, like dark meats, blackened meat or even dark chocolate.
Earthy black teas compliment blackened meat, jerk chicken, mashed potatoes and other vegetable gravy recipes.
Green tea is well known for its subtle vegetative flavor so it’s best to pair it with mildly flavored foods like seafood, fish or chicken. If you love fruits, melons are an ideal choice to pair with green tea as well. Rice tastes better when served with a cup of green tea alongside and salads are a good fit too.
Green tea has three main flavor profiles…vegetal, smoky and fruity. Each of these accentuate the taste of certain foods in a more enjoyable way.
Vegetal green teas are representative of Japanese green tea in general. It has a fresh, grassy flavor and is perfect for enhancing seafood.
Smoky green tea on the hand is stronger so it pairs well with pan-fried turkey or chicken as it cuts the greasy mouth feel of fried meat. Also, it can accentuate the taste and flavor of potatoes, light stir-fries, and even pizza made with root veggies.
Finally, fruity green teas taste delicious when served with chicken, sandwiches and fruit salads.
White tea has a silky, subtle flavor so pairing it with strong foods may cause you to miss its natural sweetness. This lovely, delicate tea it best paired with lightly flavored foods like a fresh vegetable salad.
If you try pairing white tea with sweet fruit dishes or even meat, there is chance you will feel like you’re drinking plain water. Therefore, the best option would be a light dish like a cucumber salad or a lightly seasoned seafood or fish recipe.
Oolong tea has a more multifaceted aroma that ranges between green and black teas. Therefore, it can be paired with a more vast range of foods…from light fish dishes to grilled meats. Typically, oolongs are divided into two main categories which are light and dark teas. So, when pairing this versatile beverage with dishes, it’s wise to keep the following in mind...
Light oolong tea is incredible with scallops, lobster and sweet rich seafood. So fragrant and aromatic, light oolong teas should be combined with dishes that can bring its floral notes. Try pairing this tea with crackers or lightly salted snacks. The combination of sweet and salty flavors can lead to an interesting culinary experience.
Dark oolongs are known to have a more pronounced, intense flavor so they pair better with strongly seasoned foods. Grilled duck meat, salmon, trout and bass dishes are a wonderful choice. Smoked meat and meat-based appetizers can also bring out the flavor of dark oolongs. As for desserts, pastries and pancakes made with maple syrup are usually pair well with this type of tea.
Looking for more tea and tea tips? Check out BOH Tea!