The purpose of pairing tea with food is to enhance the taste of both the dish and the beverage, so you know you found the best combination when the flavor and strength of the chosen recipe is nicely complemented and accentuated by the aroma of the picked tea, and vice versa. Picking the right tea can turn a regular dinner into a unique culinary experience and you don’t have to be a connoisseur to tell the difference – your taste buds will feel it for sure.
Today we’ll discuss about the basic facts of pairing tea and food. Detailed guidelines for different types of tea will be discussed in future articles.
Taste is individual. Therefore achieving a good pairing relies greatly on your palate in an exploration of natural interplay between food and tea. But, knowing of a few basics makes exploration of tastes much easier. Food and tea have 3 key elements that you can match – flavours, textures and components.
A pairing is made when the tea’s flavour and aroma matches, harmonises or accentuates the flavours in the food. When the flavours meet on your tongue, they will ‘recognise’ each other and a harmony of tastes is achieved. Floral, fruity, nutty, smoky, earthy, spicy, meaty are some of the flavours.
Whether similar or contrasting, the texture of the tea and food can become the buttress that holds the pair together. Food can be grainy, dry, oily or rough in texture. Some teas have a buttery feel; others might be mouth-coating in taste. Try a strong black tea with a hamburger.
Components are the basic elements perceived by the tongue – sweetness (honey), saltiness (bacon), bitterness (endives)and sourness (lime juice). An obvious taste match is that of sweetened tea with a sweet dish – this is a mirroring of the sweet component. Tea sweetened with honey is a sure match for many desserts.
Tea is a versatile beverage, and you can pair it with a wide variety of foods, from the classical Mexican dishes to the sweet chocolate desserts. So whenever you’re preparing a recipe or choosing a food to order, think of its main ingredients and choose your tea based on them.
Curious to learn more about this? Check out our future articles to find detailed information about pairing different types of teas with different types of foods.