Food pairing is synonymous with wine in western cuisine for centuries. But in recent years, pairing food with tea during main meals have gained popularity in many high-end restaurants around the world to give customers alternative beverages to accompany their meals due to health, religious or personal reasons.
When it comes to consuming tea during meals, many people will associate with Yum Cha or High Tea, where one large pot of tea is consumed during the entirety of the meal. In this article, we want to talk about the next step in this evolution of tea culture, and see how we can pair certain types of dishes to a tea. Similar to wine pairing in western cuisine, the aim is choosing the right tea to enhance the flavors of each dish.
So what food goes well with tea? There are no right or wrong answers here to tea pairing, and choosing the right tea to match your meal becomes more of a personal choice once you are familiar with a large variety of teas. In this article, we are giving readers who are new to tea pairing some basic guidelines which can help pair food with different varieties of tea. This guideline is based on the flavor and strength of both tea and the food and the aim is to always choose the right pairing so that both the food and the tea taste better.
Aged Pu-er Tea
Aged Pu-erh tea with its neutral taste, soothing, and fat cleansing properties have been a staple for people in Southern China with high-fat diets. It is great for foods that are oily, high in fat, spicy and garlicky. Aged Pu-erh tea pairs well with roast meats, Southern China cuisines, or Korean BBQs.
Oolong tea is half fermented tea and offers a wide range of leaf styles, oxidation, roasting levels, and plucking time of year, all contribute to the unique flavors and aromas of the tea. Because of this, Oolong teas pair well with many varieties of foods and cuisines. The floral and fruity fragrance of Oolong tea such as Iron Buddha (Tie Guan Yin) goes particularly well with seafood and vegetarian dishes, while the Phoenix Daffodil is great for desserts and fruits.
Green Tea (Chinese)
Delicate, nutty, sweet, and slightly vegetal. Green tea such as our Early Spring Long Jing (Dragon Well) pairs wonderfully with foods with subtle flavors such as seafood, chicken, and salads. The refreshing nature of green is also great for palate cleansing between dishes.
Jasmine and Scented Tea
This category of teas usually refers to artificially processed tea by means of fumigating the taste of flowers to a baked green or black tea. Typically stronger in flavors and aromas, this category of tea is usually consumed after a meal or during desserts because of the pleasant fragrance of jasmine and scented tea refresh and relax your body and mind.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your own combinations, while keeping in mind that there is no right or wrong way in finding flavors that complement each other. Good food and tea pairing will enhance the flavors of both food and tea combined and as long as you are getting enjoyment out of your pairing experience, that's all that matters.