The art of tea pairing, much like wine pairing, is a sensory experience that explores the dynamic between the aromas and flavors we find in teas and food. The right tea will balance and even accentuate the flavors in your food.
The Art of Tea pairing
Like wine, teas possess their own distinctive scents which are key to our experience—or perception—of their flavors. By analyzing the unique aromatic properties of various teas, our research has determined that certain ingredients are more compatible than others. Currently, we have analyzed the profiles of 20 different teas, which can all be found in our Foodpairing® ingredient database. Below you’ll find some helpful information for green, black and Darjeeling teas to help get you started on your own tea pairing journey.
Black Tea pairings
The majority of the black teas consumed today come from China, India and Sri Lanka. Known for their reddish infusions, these teas are derived from both the Camellia sinensis plant and its assamica varietal. Unlike green teas, black tea leaves have been cured and are therefore fully oxidized, resulting in a somewhat more astringent taste, together with malty and woody, roasted flavors similar to bread. Black teas also have a naturally complex aromatic profile that includes the fermented, fruitier scents of banana, apple and pear, along with the more herbal aromas of cooked potatoes, zucchini and eggplant.
Black Tea pairing ideas: Try experimenting with ingredients such as strawberry, raspberry, banana, pear, zucchini, cooked eggplant, sweet potato and pumpkin.
Green tea pairings
Green teas are characterized by their green or golden tones when brewed, resulting from processing methods such as steaming, baking, pan- or dry-roasting the leaves to preserve their light color and prevent oxidation. Harvested solely from the Camellia sinensis plant, green teas like Japanese matcha tend to have more pronounced apple and rose-like floral notes, along with certain green, fatty cucumber-type aromas.
Green Tea pairings ideas: The bright flavors we find in green teas pair especially well with other vibrant ingredients like lemongrass, ginger, saffron, apple, pineapple, apricot, tomato, artichoke, cashews, anchovies, bacon and rum.
Darjeeling Tea pairings
Darjeeling tea is a black tea varietal, grown across the famed Golden Valley mountain district of Western Bengal. A Chinese tea tinged with Indian terroir, Darjeelings are prized for their delicate smokiness reminiscent of oat flakes, roasted caramellic notes and bright green fatty cucumber-like notes. These nuanced teas also boast of honey and violet-like floral notes and citrus orange notes.
Darjeeling Tea pairing ideas: Darjeeling has a natural affinity for ingredients such as honey, vanilla, apple, rose, cucumber and coriander, but it also pairs well with elderflower, bergamot, clams and sea bass. Who would have thought?
Other tea pairing considerations
As with coffee, there are many other factors that can directly affect our experience of teas. For example, brew methods (hot versus cold) will cause certain aromas to intensify, due to the differences in temperature and steeping time which affect the oxidation of tea leaves. Be sure to consult your tea sources for proper brew times and temperatures to ensure proper extraction of the right flavors…it’s important! Texture is another element you’ll want to take into account since some teas have a more astringent mouth feel, while others may leave you with a more buttery impression.