Much like wine pairing, mastering the art of pairing tea with food can truly enhance your meal. Knowing how to season the right dishes can turn a regular dinner into an amazing culinary experience. You don’t need to be a tea connoisseur to tell the difference. Your taste buds will let you know. The reason 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 flavours of the dish and the aroma of the tea.
Tea is incredibly versatile and can be paired with a vast variety of foods, from classic meat dishes to sweet chocolate desserts. It helps to focus on the main ingredients of the dish and then choosing the right tea based on that. Another tip to add some insight into tea pairing is looking at the cuisine from the traditional tea producing regions. For instance, Japanese green teas pair amazingly with most fish and seafood dishes as well as rice based recipes, like sushi. Here is brief list of tantalizing tea pairings to help you on your teal tale.
The one with the most robust flavour 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.
- 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 flavoured 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.
- Vegetal green teas are representative of Japanese green tea in general. It has a fresh, grassy flavour 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 flavour of potatoes, light stir-frys and even pizza made with root veggies.
- Finally, fruity green teas taste delicious when served with chicken, sandwiches and fruit salads. Also a great choice for a refreshing glass of iced tea. Representative of Ceylon and Indian green teas, these beverages have a lovely, light sweetness, which makes them perfect for baked meat-based dishes and whole wheat breads. These aren’t the best option for deep-fried or greasy meat recipes.
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 flavours can lead to an interesting culinary experience.
- Dark oolongs are known to have a more pronounced, intense flavour 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 flavour of dark oolongs. As for desserts, pastries and pancakes made with maple syrup are usually good pairs for this type of tea.