Tea Pairing with desserts

Tea Pairing Guide: A Journey into Flavors and Pairings

Jul 04, 2023

Shanika Dasanayaka

Having a cup of tea is an enjoyable moment. Similarly, tea and food together are always an excellent match. Though did you know that there is an art to pairing tea with foods? Read on below to learn more about these methods. 

Tea is a beverage with different flavors and attributes. A teacup would offer you a nice flavor, but pairing tea with food might enhance the flavor profiles and improve your overall tea experience. In today's society, tea drinking has become a cultural event, some countries even have tea drinking rituals or daily tea routines. For other countries, it has become more festive such as wedding ceremonials. Regardless of whether you have a teacup alone or with a group of your friends and loved ones, your tea experience will become more enjoyable when you have something to eat along with enjoying the cup of tea. Not just any food would go well with the various distinct flavors of tea so you'll need to be mindful of which foods pair well with which kind of tea.

So, let’s learn how tea pairing can be done with foods and become your own master in the art of tea pairing.

How Tea Pairing is done with food?

Where there is tea, there is food that pairs with it. To understand the concept of tea pairing, you must understand the taste and flavor of tea and food. The teacup must have a perfect flavor balance. Then you need to select a matching food item to complement or bring out the flavor of the tea. 

Rules for Tea Pairing  

When pairing tea with food, you need to know the basic rules because not all the teas would go well with all dishes. Try to understand which tea flavor matches or may complement the flavor of your food. There is no hard rule in tea pairing, but the prominent and orthodox rule is understanding and matching the flavors.

Black Teas

Most black tea has a bold, bright and somewhat astringent taste and fragrance. The robust black tea flavor pairs well with meat and spicy dishes with similar strength. Foods such as roast meats, spicy lamb dishes, heavy pasta like lasagna, lightly salted food, and fruit flavors are ideal for black tea pairing. 

Green Teas

Green tea has a mildly astringent, vegetative taste and fragrance. So, the taste of green tea matches well with soft or subtly flavored foods such as seafood, vegetarian salads, rice, melon, chicken, and mild green curries. Green tea is excellent for having after meals as it possesses the benefits of aiding digestion.

White Teas

\White tea has a gently sweet and subtle flavor in the brew, sometimes with a buttery mouthfeel. Therefore, it pairs well with light foods with the mildest flavors, such as basic salads, white fish, oatmeal, yogurt, basmati rice, etc.

Oolong Teas

Oolong tea is a semi-oxidized tea with a smoky, complex flavor profile that vary in between a black and green tea. Greener oolong teas have a vegetal or floral flavor more towards green tea, while darker oolongs are closer to black tea. The oxidized oolong tea pairs well with fruity desserts, smoked cheese, and meats. The greener oolongs go well with foods like scallops, lobster, and other sweet, rich foods, while darker oolong tea pairs with intensely flavored foods like grilled meats.

Fruit and Scented Tea Pairing 

Fruity and scented teas have a bright, flavorful fruity and sweet taste. Scented teas can give different flavor variations, like fruit and floral flavors. Therefore, food pairing with each flavor should be analyzed and understood carefully. These teas usually pair perfectly with complex desserts, cakes, pastries, cookies, dark chocolate, and sometimes spicy flavors.

Chai Pairing

Chai is a type of tea that combines South Asian spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and pepper. Combinations of these spices give a solid spicy flavor with a sweet note to the brew. The tea pairs well with dishes that have similar strengths, such as Turkish sweetmeats and Indian pastries.

Flavor Enhancers

With tea and pastry there can be combinations that elevates the tea and pastry flavors. For example, a lychee flavored tea with a lychee flavored pastry brings out more of the lychee flavors. Consuming both at the same time enhances the flavors of both the tea and pastry. 

Flavor Contrasts

Flavors that contrast can be considered good because it can negate a particular taste that is unwanted such as the black tea's astringency or the green tea's vegetal flavor. Flavors such as citrus can help with the astringency from the black tea and spicy or creamy notes can help negate the vegetal taste of the green teas.

Complementary Flavors

Tea pairing with complementary flavoring is also an interesting area of study. When thinking of complimentary flavors, peanut butter and jelly comes to mind as an example. Tea with roasted qualities or a malty taste would complement the cocao or caramel flavors well. Black tea paired with creamy notes or citrusy flavors have been paired together for a long time. 

Methods of Pairing Tea & Pastry

There are two ways we can pair tea with food. One is to brew a cup of tea and sip it while eating pastries the enhance, contrast or compliments the tea. The other way is to prepare the pastry by infusing tea in it. Combining tea with food items creates a unique taste profile, giving a totally different feeling from drinking a teacup. Also, it allows the essence of the whole tea leaf to be included as an ingredient rather than just using the liquor of the brewed tea. Cookies are the most common food item to prepare that's infused with the tea. Below are some suggestions of tea infused cookies to try, at your next tea party.

Matcha Pistachio Cookies

The use of grounded matcha tea has become one of the top ingredients in pastry kitchens across the world. For this matcha pistachio cookie, the key ingredients includes pistachio nut powder and grounded matcha tea. An additional advantage is that all the healthy benefits of of the grounded matcha tea would be mixed directly into the cookie. This way it becomes an edible and healthy tea cookie.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

Finely ground Earl Grey black tea becomes one of the main ingredients when making this cookie. A richly-scented earl grey black tea and chocolate becomes the vital ingredients for this crispy cookie. Dipping it in a chocolate ganache would make the cookie perfect. This cookie is ideal for wintertime.

Vanilla Rooibos Tea Cookies

Using tea for the cookies might add caffeine to them. If you want a caffeine-free cookie, add some ground vanilla rooibos to the recipe. As rooibos is naturally sweet, you can add minimal sugar to make the cookie sweet.

Tea pairing: Final Thoughts

Drinking tea has become a tradition and cultural event throughout history. It is a drink consumed as a lifestyle, to quench thirst, to be healthy, and for celebrations. While drinking the tea, you can have some light snack to consume with the tea. We call this tea pairing and it has become an art. The core aspect of this art is by identifying the flavors of tea, the flavor of the desserts and then combining them. It's considered an art because it requires true mastery and knowledge of the different flavors and textures. Essentially, tea pairing does not have any complex rules, it's just about matching good flavors together to enhance, contrast and complement what's being consumed. To do this, the flavor of different teas needs to be identified first, then the flavors and textures of the foods should be identified. Join Tea J Tea’s educational journey as we strive to be a master of this art through our monthly pairings into unseen corners of the tea and pastry world!

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