Linked with Sri Lanka’s rich history is Tea. We are one of the biggest tea exporters in the world and rightfully so as we are well known for our ‘Ceylon Tea’ and produce an unmatched quality. While tea estates are something we see only on trips ( if you don’t live in the hilly mountain side) and tea pickers are often the subject of holiday pictures, tea can play a bigger part in our life other than just being a morning cuppa.
Walking into any supermarket you will be greeted with an array of colourful boxes from various brands and now we have even have a larger choice in terms of iced tea and tea infused food. Yet, how much as Sri Lankans do we actually know about tea?
There are 4 main types of Tea.
This is probably the most expensive and rarest tea we have to offer. This is because only a handful of skilled tea pickers are allowed to pick it as you need to be extremely gentle in doing so, so as not to damage the cells within the bud. It is also said to be healthier than green tea.
This is most probably what your mum drinks on a daily basis. This is an unfermented tea which is light and mild and generally used for health purposes such as losing weight, clearer skin, preventing diabetes and a healthy heart. It has quite a bitter taste compared to its counterparts and higher the temperature of the water the more bitter it will taste.
This is more your dad’s cup of choice. It is a fermented version and the most common as it has a malty nutty taste. Black tea includes Earl Grey, Masala Chai and English breakfast to name a few.
This varies from a light, floral and mild sweetness to a heavier, darker, fruity and woody tasting variety depending on the oxidation process.
Tea doesn’t need to be drunk on a rainy day alone, instead pair it with the below categories and taste the difference.
We all know that pairing food and wine is an art form, but did you know that pairing tea and food is an even more exquisite art form? It is more than just having a cup of tea after dinner at a Chinese restaurant or having your afternoon tea with a piece of cake.
So here are few rules and tips for the next meal.
Think of flavour intensity. Like wine, not every tea will suit every meal. Fresher dishes will pair well with green teas whereas strong malty teas will pair well with a meaty dish. While white teas are generally paired with light desserts.
If you’re having a hearty meal like an English breakfast, Pasta, Steak or even spicy food then a strong black tea will ideally complement such a meal with its malty flavour.
For lighter food such as a salad, a cup of green tea will help keep up the freshness of the meal. If it is a fish dish or sushi in particular choose a green tea with an umami flavour so that there won’t be a clash of flavours.
The Oolong tea flavour is very versatile as it can be light or strong depending on the process of oxidation. Lighter oolong tea pairs well with light meals such as appetizers whereas strong oolong tea better suits the main course especially if it is meat.
White tea is more of a dessert tea and pairs well with vanilla, mascarpone or Chantilly cream and classic Pavlovas.
For all you cheese lovers out there, not only does cheese pair well with wine but it pairs even better with tea. Due to the heat it can open up a third dimension of flavour.
Black Tea pairs well with smoked Gouda or mild blue cheese as the bold flavour will help balance out the astringency of the tea.
For fresh goat’s cheese and brie, light green tea is ideal.
Cheeses like gruyere, ricotta or fontina which complement white wines will also complement white teas.
More creamy cheeses like Cheddar or cream cheese are better complemented with Earl Grey.
Crayeuse, a raw cow’s milk cheese pairs well with matcha tea. Albeit it may sound weird, but the earthy umami flavour of matcha marries well with the mushroomy earthy notes of the cheese giving it an extra oomph of flavour no other combination can.
Cake is probably one of the first things that came to your mind at the mention of tea. However it is more than just having your standard butter cake, Marie biscuits and milk tea.
Go for more floral teas with your slice of cake, for example Earl Grey and lemon curd cake are a match made for your taste palette. Further, matcha green tea pairs well with a soft creamy cheesecake and for a standard chocolate cake a steaming cup of black tea would do to counteract the richness of cocoa.
In terms of baked snacks, Cinnamon buns are great with spicy chai lattes. For other items like scones, buns or muffins pick a jam that matches your tea as the perfect addition to your plate like strawberry black tea with strawberry jam or black peach tea with peach jam.
…..And just like that life did get better! Here it is all about balancing the bitterness of the cocoa against that flavourful cup of tea. This pairing can cause an instant change in flavour so here are a few tips.
Milk chocolate – it is the most popular type and is often matched with rich black tea types like chai, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, English breakfast or Sencha green tea.
Black Chocolate – rich in intensity and bitter in flavour it is paired with mint tea, black tea, oolong tea and Earl Grey tea.
White Chocolate – it is consumed less compared to its counterparts as it is quite sweet as a result it is best paired with malty or spicy teas to balance out the sweetness like masala chai, jasmine green tea or lightly to medium roasted oolong tea.
Do go and check out our local tea lounges and cafés who host events and workshops on tea pairings and more!
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