Move over wine. Tea pairings are the latest trend in fine dining.
This new way to appreciate tea has taken off in fine-dining circles, as more restaurants feature tea menus suited for savoury and sweet dishes. The aromas, flavours, and structure of teas can enhance food, much like wine, and the pairing possibilities are endless.
Exactly the same as you do with wine, the whole idea of pairing tea with food is that you should have a tea that’s going to enhance the flavour of the food, or vice versa. What you want to happen in your mouth is to feel the different layers of taste and flavours of both tea and food.
So why not revive your afternoon tea ritual … here’s a beginner’s guide to tea pairing …
Start by matching the weight and intensity of the dish and the tea. The different types of tea – white, green, black, dark, becomes more intense as you go down the spectrum, with white tea having the most delicate and subtle flavours and mouthfeel, black and dark teas having the deepest flavours. For example, you could match a green tea with white fish, or a black tea with red meat but you wouldn’t pair a white tea with a curry as the tea’s delicate notes would be overpowered by the strong spice flavours.
A dish that is rich and oily, such as red meat, works really well with Assam black tea as this tea often has a high tannin content resulting in astringency that acts as a palate-cleanser between each mouthful.
Chamomile is a caffeine-free herbal tea that is often used to help people get better sleep. Its apple-like flavour can be a great pairing with scones and fruity sweets.
Experiment. It’s the best way to find out what works for you – you’ll find an unexpected combination works beautifully.
Try pairing tea with chocolate. Like all other pairings, you should find flavour notes that match. You can enhance flavours by choosing a tea that has the same notes as the pairing you are drinking it with. For example, Lindt Excellence 70 per cent Cocoa blends perfectly with the robust flavours of English Breakfast tea for a full-bodied taste. Just add milk to your tea to accentuate the chocolate’s creaminess for a real classic.
Also look for flavour notes that complement. The bergamot flavour of Earl Grey tea, with its subtle tones of muscatel, is the perfect accompaniment to the citrus flavours of the classic Lindt Excellence Orange Intense. Balancing the high citrus taste, sliced almonds compliment the tea’s earthy undertones for a well-rounded flavour.