While most people associate sommeliers with wine, there is a new expert in beverage matching emerging; tea sommeliers. These experts are part of a growing trend of pairing food with tea in order to accentuate and complement the flavours of a dish. As any true tea lover will know, the diversity of flavours and aromas of tea is almost limitless, making it the perfect beverage to complement food. This trend originated in France but is growing in popularity across the globe, as tea takes on a more prominent role in the dining experience. If you’d like to enhance the flavour of your meals and be the first of your friends to pick up on this trend, try following this beginner’s guide to pairing tea with food.
White tea has a very subtle and delicate flavor, meaning that it will be easily overpowered by strongly flavoured foods. White tea should be paired with lightly flavoured, fresh foods such as salads or steamed fish. Check out our range of white teas here.
While more strongly flavoured than white tea, green tea also has quite a subtle flavor. Therefore it is very well suited to mildly flavoured foods such as chicken, rice and fish. However even within green tea there is some variance in flavor profiles. There are three main flavours of green tea:
- Japanese Green Tea -Vegetal: This is the most common type of green tea. The fresh grassy flavor complements fish and rice dishes and Japanese cuisine.
- Chinese Green Tea – Smoky: This type of green tea generally has a stronger flavour than other green teas. It complements fried white meats and stir fries but does not go well with desserts.
- Indian Green Tea -Fruity: Indian green teas should be paired with fresh dishes like sandwiches, fruit salads, bread and chicken. The fruitiness also makes it ideal for making iced tea or for pairing with mild desserts.
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While many argue that the complex flavour profile of oolong tea means it should be drunk on its own, the fact that it encompasses a wide variety of flavours and intensities means that it can be paired with a wide variety of dishes. The two main kinds of oolong are green and black and these require different food pairings.
- Green: These oolongs have a lighter flavour and are usually fragrant and floral, meaning they complement rich seafood like crab, lobster and scallops.
- Black: Darker oolongs go well with stronger flavoured food such as smoked meat or grilled fish. They can also be drunk with bread-based deserts like waffles and pastries.
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Black tea has a strong flavour profile, meaning it can be successfully paired with more robustly flavoured dishes which can overpower subtler teas. Again there is a large variance in the flavour profile of black teas.
- Fruity: These black teas are the perfect accompaniment for strongly flavoured desserts and the tannins help to cut through the sweetness, giving the meal balance.
- Smoky or Earthy: These teas are perfect for full flavoured dishes like red meat and curries.
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