You might not think of tea as being a typical pairing for a slice of cheese, but the two can be quite good together. Much like wine, certain teas contain tannins that are released once the tea leaves are exposed to hot water. These tannins contribute to the tea’s particular flavor, giving it a full-bodied taste and making it a perfect accompaniment to cheese. When giving tea and cheese pairing demos, Betty Koster, co-owner of L’Amuse cheese shop in Amsterdam, says its best to analyze the flavor and seek cheese with similar characteristics:
“I always search for a bridge in flavors. You can smell tea at first; try to identify what you recognize. For example in pu-her [green] tea, you will smell earthy notes, like a wet autumn forest and moss.”
Here are some things to consider when picking out some cheese for your next tea time.
Hot or Cold
Tea tastes best hot or iced and never in between, while cheese should always be served at room temperature. Either way, the clash of temperatures feels great in the mouth and can influence the flavor. For example, hot tea can make a rich cheese feel less heavy since it washes away some of the texture that would normally stick to the palate. On the other hand, iced tea pairs nicely with a more mild and refreshing cheese.
If you are drinking hot tea, take advantage of that. Begin by taking a sip of tea to warm your palate, and prepare it for the flavors of the cheese. Then, take a bite of the cheese to appreciate its subtleties. Then take a sip of tea with some cheese still in your mouth to really explore how the tea and the cheese interact together. It’s essential that you avoid using milk, cream, or sugar in your tea as each can mask the flavor of both the tea and the cheese.
When looking to pick a cheese for a tea, you are looking for contrasts that will complement each other. For example, the crispness of a strong black tea will cut through smoothness of a rich triple cream. The triple cream will also tone down the sharp notes and bring out any floral characteristics of the tea.
Try pairing a nice Earl Grey with a Coach Farm Triple Cream.
Green tea is beloved for its rich, earthy flavor. Naturally, a fabulous cheese pairing for green tea is one with its own grassy and herbal notes, like Grand Cru Gruyère.
The flavors of tea and cheese can stand on their own, but together, it’s a whole new world to explore. So if it’s chilly out and you’re looking to warm up while snacking on your favorite cheese, throw the kettle on the stove and make some tea!Featured Photo Credit: Madame Fromage Blog