You can pair tea with any food out there, truthfully. There’s very little that cannot be complimented by the variety and complexity of different teas.
Tea and food have gone hand in hand in many cultures, especially British. Afternoon tea, often served with finger sandwiches, small cakes and scones has become an institution copied and emulated around the world.
Although there are endless options when it comes to tea and snack pairings, there are some that work specifically. Some of these include green tea and dark chocolate, white tea and ricotta, even rooibos and beef sandwiches! You’d be surprised by some of the combinations that work.
Below are ten to feast your eyes and tastebuds on in the near future!
Black Tea and Scones
One of the most flavourful teas, black tea is oxidised for longer than its counterparts, creating bolder tastes and aromas. To match this full-bodied brew with a snack, you should opt for a classic scone with clotted cream. Instead of putting the jam with the scone, try mixing a teaspoon of it into your tea!
Thanks to its robust flavour, black tea often pairs well with other types of hearty foods such as lamb, roast beef and venison. They pair with anything from lasagna to breakfasts like scrambled eggs and sausages. If you prefer a spicier meal, black tea also works well with a zingy bowl of curry!
Green Tea and Dark Chocolate
Green tea has a distinct earthy and somewhat seaweedy flavour and is popular throughout the tea-loving world, particularly in its native China. As for snack pairings, you should opt for a nice bar of dark chocolate. Although nice on its own merit, dark chocolate does contain more cocoa which can be harmonised by a fruit green tea.
Counteract the more bitter side of dark chocolate with any green tea you can find, most are pretty good! And they have tons of benefits to mull over while you’re sat biting into a delicious bar of chocolate. Increased metabolism, lower cholesterol, and maybe even decreased risk of heart failure! Don’t take this as gospel, though. The only thing certain here is that green tea and dark chocolate make great bedfellows.
Matcha and Avocado
Matcha is the cooler, younger brother of traditional tea. It doesn’t come in leaf form but is instead sold as a powder and is a staple of many health-crazed diets. To pair it with a snack, you should try avocado toast. Packed with plenty of protein and amino acids, these two make for an incredibly flavourful and healthy combination.
If you’re attending a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, you will likely be served dishes known as Kaiseki, which are known to compliment the vegetal and grassy taste and aroma of matcha. You may also be served a sweet dish called Wagashi, which is made up of fruit, bean paste or rice cakes.
Oolong and Crackers
Made from the same plant that produces green and black tea, oolong tea is semi-oxidised and rolled to give it its unique shape. Color-wise, it’s usually brownish-red, but the flavours are quite complex. It goes perfectly with crackers or crisps, believe it or not. Darker oolong teas go well with pastries and pancakes.
When it comes to meals, oolong will pair well with light or red meats, seafood, and pretty much any dessert you can find! The research into oolong isn’t as heavy as it is with black or green tea, but studies have shown that it could help reduce the risk of diabetes and comes with a variety of antioxidants. So teaming a cup of it up with a dessert will be fine!
Chamomile and Cake
Famous for its unmistakable colour, aroma and taste, chamomile surprises first-time drinkers with its perfumey scent. Believed to be the most stress-relieving of teas, it works fine on its own but has the capacity to pair well with certain snacks, too. Such as cake!
To match its easy-going flavour, you’re not going to want something heavy and robust and savoury with your cup of fine chamomile. No, you’ll be far better off looking at a menu of cakes. It doesn’t really matter which, so long as the cake is sweet (as cakes tend to be) then you’re all set! If you’re not sure what cake to get from your supermarket you could always go to a tea house and see what they recommend.
Hibiscus and Fresh Fruit
Created from the petals of the roselle flower, hibiscus tea boasts a charming reddish colour, reminiscent of raspberry tea, though its flavour is a lot tarter. Still, this opens it up to a lot of good snack pairings. One of the best is a simple bowl of fruit!
Don’t count fruit as a snack? You will if you pair it with a nice hot cup of hibiscus. Whether your fruit has been refrigerated or been made to warm up at room temperature, the contrast between it and the steamy brew in your hands will be too good to pass up. If you’re truly stuck for options, may we suggest strawberries?
Rooibos and Beef Sandwiches
Go to South Africa and there’s a good chance the default tea served to you will be rooibos. Known for its tartness and earthy tones, it’s slightly similar to hibiscus. The snacks it pairs well with are quite similar too. It may sound odd, but sandwiches have been known to match rooibos incredibly well, especially beef.
Of course, there will be some of you out there who won’t be able to consume beef for dietary or personal reasons. For vegetarians out there, try instead a croissant with your rooibos. For the vegans, you can’t go wrong with peaches, apples, prunes, blackcurrant or pineapple!
White and Cheese
White teas aren’t oxidised but they have a lighter, mellower flavour than your standard green or black tea. They go great with fresh and light cheeses such as burrata, mozzarella and ricotta. If you go for ricotta, make sure you drizzle it in a bit of honey or a pinch of Maldon. Pairing tea and cheese is said to unlock the “third flavour”.
If cheese isn’t your cup of tea, you can always pair it with a hearty bowl of oatmeal. Throw in some peaches and fresh berries for an extra bit of panache. It will compliment the buttery and apricot-like flavour so good you’ll be kicking yourself for having not discovered it earlier! White tea also works weirdly well with basmati rice and white fish, if you’re thinking larger.
Pu-erh and Stir Fry
Pu-erh teas are primarily known for their digestive benefits, but they should really be famous for their earthy and distinct flavour. As for pairings, you’d be foolish not to serve a cup of this stuff with anything oily and greasy, such as a stir-fry. Pu-erh is known to neutralise the grease and make for a more enjoyable experience.
Don’t shy away from a second serving. Pu-erh is, of course, best after a meal or snack as its polyphenols cleanse a manner of toxins and free radicals. Pu-erh can also improve heart health thanks to its cholesterol-lowering statins. The bacteria natural to this brew support gut health, too!
Purple Tea and Iced Buns
Purple tea has a dark colour but the infusion is light and purple, hence the name. An easy drink to consume, it offers none of the astringency or tannin bitterness of black tea, nor any of the grassy or vegetal notes of green tea. You’re going to want to pair this snack-wise with something both sweet and doughy, like an iced bun.
Iced buns are a simple snack, little more than glazed icing atop a white bread roll of some sort. But boy do they hit the spot. Purple tea is a simplistic tea, so the iced bun suits it perfectly. It’s fine to put some topping on the icing. Chocolate sprinkles would work great, as would nuts!