Cheese and…tea? Yes, that’s right. Although the major tea producing regions are not major cheese consuming regions, the two come together to make a flavorful pair. Similar to wine and cheese, tea and fromage can be matched to compliment each other’s taste.
Why bother branching out? There is a number of reasons to start pairing your dairy with a good cup of tea. One, cheese and tea are similar creatures. Both depend highly on their environment to determine their taste. Just as cheese can be impacted by the diet of the cow or goat providing its milk, tea can flavor can differ depending on the soil or climate the plant is grown in. Two, tea can have varying degrees of tannin and natural astringency, and cheese can balance out the dryness of the tea’s astringency while being enhanced by the tannin.
“Most people, in my experience, think of tea as a drink for rainy days, grandmas, or as a little sister to coffee,” said Rachel Safko, a writer and researcher specializing in global niche markets, in a recent Forbes article. “All of the above can be true, but there’s much more versatility to tea—it’s the chameleon of beverages.”
How do you properly pair? There are many things to consider when pairing cheese and tea because both have differing forms and qualities based on their origin. For example, tea can be iced or hot. Hot tea can be used to prep your palate for your favorite fromage because its warmth can open your mouth up for more flavor and wash away pervious cheeses. Cold tea can enhance the freshness of a more mild cheese. Additionally, just as with wine, you should consider the different flavors of your tea, no matter its temperature, and the strength of its dairy counterpart. For instance, you could pair a green tea with a chèvre or a stronger black tea, such as Lapsang Souchong, with a full bodied blue.
The variety cheese and tea individually offer make the pairing possibilities seem endless, so next time you make yourself a cheese plate, you may consider breaking out the kettle.