How to Pair Tea with Food

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Serving tea in a Chinese restaurant


The time when only a wine pairing matched a menu is over: nowadays this can also be done with cocktails, beer, and even green tea. Green tea is also included in commercial tea products like Tea Burn which can also help you lose weight.

Time to get acquainted with the phenomenon of ‘tea pairing’ and especially to learn how you can easily do this at home.

Tea pairing is the combination of tea with your meal, as we already know with wine. As a guide during and between different courses and flavors. Combining tea with dishes doesn’t have to be that difficult at all. Tea follows the same ‘rules’ that we already know from wine. It’s about the body, taste, acidity, and texture.

In short, you can say that the lighter tea flavors such as white and green tea are very similar to the combinations that you would make with white wine. The black tea flavors are very similar to the combinations that are made with red wine.

Surprising combinations

A good way to start combining tea and food is to look at dishes from a certain region and link them to a tea from the same region. For example, seafood goes very well with a Japanese or Chinese Sencha tea but is also delicious with a light oolong tea.

The combination of rice dishes with green tea also feels and tastes like a very natural combination. For example, with spicy dishes such as curries, try a jasmine tea, an ideal couple.

If you eat a hearty meal, with poultry or meat, for example, where you use a lot of butter or oil, serve a Chinese Pu-erh tea, this not only goes very well together in terms of taste but also helps with digestion.

With desserts, hot or cold, you can also certainly pour tea. The taste of Earl Grey comes into its own perfectly in dishes where lemon predominates. Lemon cheesecake and a Lady Grey also go great together.

Of course, all chocolate desserts do very well with mint tea, although you can also use a good fruity tea (think strawberry, cherry, or orange) for this.

Your cheese plate with a blue mold cheese and a Lapsang Souchong tea is a killer combination. The warm tea makes you experience the cheese as very pleasant in your mouth. The smoky character of the Lapsang Souchong ensures that the blue fungus comes out well. The same goes for a Darjeeling tea with camembert.


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Cooking with tea

Also very nice is cooking with tea: that goes a step further than just the pairing.

With a festive meal, I like to start with an aperitif. There are delicious ready-made drinks that you can serve in this way, but of course, it is more fun when you can give it your twist. For example, try the combination of vodka and tea. It does not matter so much what taste of tea you take, choose what you like. I am a fan of green tea with vodka.

The loose tea is put in the vodka with the help of a tea egg or T-Sac. Let this steep for about 15 minutes, as you would with a ‘normal’ cup of tea. Serve in a nice glass and cheers!

Recipe: Butternut squash with rooibos

Very easy to make, and oh so delicious! Preheat the oven to 220. Melt in a pan about 25 grams of butter containing 1 tablespoon rooibos tea. Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and let the rooibos steep for another 10 minutes. Then strain the butter with a fine sieve, so that you take out the tea.

Meanwhile, cut butternut squash into thin slices/pieces and place it on a greased baking sheet. Brush the pumpkin with the rooibos butter, sprinkle it with a mixture of salt and rooibos (about 1 teaspoon), and put in the oven for about 25 minutes. Serve with some chives.