Tea is a beverage that has been enjoyed for generations. In China there are tea houses and formal tea houses. In Japan they have the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony that is taught as part of their cultural heritage. Myanmar eats pickled tea as a delicacy. In the United Kingdom, tea isn’t just a beverage, they’ve named meals after it. They have afternoon tea, snack tea, and high tea. Depending on your social class depends on which teas you observe. In America, tea is most often serve iced, and in the south it is commonly sweetened. Tea has little cultural influence in America, and is commonly served as a replacement for Soda. Tea is culturally significant in many countries in the world, and is often paired with traditional foods for that culture. It’s not always easy to determine what kind of tea to drink with your snack though. A good rule of thumb is to select a tea that matches the food in flavor (mild with mild, strong with strong). Let’s explore some flavorful pairings:
White tea is extremely light. It’s mild in flavor, and is easily lost when paired with savory or sweet flavors. This beverage is perfect alongside a light salad with minimal dressing, or fruit that is light in flavor.
Black tea comes in three different varieties: smoky, earthy, and fruity. Pair fruity black tea with sweet deserts. The rich flavors mirror one another, and the tannins bring out a new depth of flavor. I would put it with a piece of raspberry chocolate cake. Earthy black tea has a bold flavor to it, and partners well with roasted potatoes and seared red meat. If you are on the go, you may consider pairing your earthy black tea with beef jerky. Smoky black tea will have a different profile, but also pairs well with dark chocolates and dark meat. A Chinese smoky black tea will compliment a snack of nuts, cheese, dried berries, and chocolate.
Oolong tea comes in two varieties. A lighter oolong may be well suited for sushi or mixed nuts. A darker oolong is a great breakfast tea, pairing well with bacon and light pastries.
Green tea falls between an oolong and a white tea. There are some varieties to this as well. The fruity teas are well suited for chicken salad, and savory pastries. You might pair the fruity oolong with a cheese Danish for a nice flavor palette. The smoky oolong teas partner well with rich cheeses, and perhaps slices of salami. Oolong teas that are more vegetable based are ideal for seafoods, consider pairing this with salmon and crackers.
Selecting the perfect tea to go with your meal is a fine art, and is quite comparable to finding the right wine to go with your cheese. However, with that said, it all comes down to personal preference. If you have discovered that you like to pair an oolong tea of the vegetable variety with pancakes and maple syrup, who’s to argue with you? Drink up!