We all know the happy marriage of Wine & Cheese. You can actually read my infographics about Cheese & Wine Pairings here. Tea, just like wine, is aromatic and has tannins, with different strength levels depending on the type of tea we are looking at: Green Tea, Oolong, Black Tea, Rooibos or Pu erh. Therefore Tea and Cheese can offer some great pairings, as you can see in the infographics below!
On retiendra donc les éléments suivants :
Green Teas are not, or very little oxydised. They develop vegetal notes and are rich in tannins (especially green teas from Japan), which give them a little bit of bitterness.
The texture and fatness of soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Pont-l’Evêque, etc.) reduces the bittreness of the tea and enhances its vegetal and floral notes.
Green Teas from China, with less vegetal notes, can be paired with goat’s cheese. This reduces the animal notes of the cheese and enhances its buttery and milky notes.
Oolong / Wulong Tea
Oolong Tea is sort of half way between green and black tea. Its leaves are partially oxydised (20 to 60%), which gives tea its distinguished colour between green and brown. Chinese people call it « blue-green » tea.
Oolong teas, with floral and fruity notes, pair very well with hard-pressed uncooked cheeses (Cantal, Ossau-Iraty, etc.). The cheese enhances the fruity aromas of the temperature of the tea gives some softness to the hard cheese while enhancing its length on the palate.
Black Tea, also called Red Tea in China, is made from fully oxydised leaves. In opposition to Green Tea, it does not have any tannins and as a consequence it is not bitter at all. Its aromas can vary a lot, from slightly grilled to very smoke and caramelized notes.
Black Teas work very well with hard pressed cooked cheeses (Comté, Beaufort, etc.). Their almond and dry fruit notes reduce the grilled/smoke notes of tea, evolving towards some delicate flowery and fruity aromas.
Rooibos Tea, aslo called « Red Bush » or « Red Tea » due to its colour (confusing with black tea, also called red tea by Chinese people…), is actually not tea. It is not made from tea leaves but from thorns of a bush that can only be found in South Africa. Not containing any caffeine at all, its infusion gives a round and smooth drink, with distinguished honey and sweet notes.
The sweetness of this tea reminds us of sweet wines. As a consequence we think of blue cheese (Roquefort, Stilton, etc.) in termes of pairing. The sweetness of this tea will reduce the steely notes of the cheese and its warmth will enhance its length on the palate.
Pu erh Tea
Pu erh tea is not only oxydised but aslo fermented. This is due to the way it is made,deprived of oxygen allowing the development of some micro-organisms. Chinese peoapl are very fond of this tea. It is sometimes pressed and aged during several years, becoming very expensive. Its aromas are very unusual the first time one tries it, with strong animaly and earthy notes. This reminds us a great Hermitag efrom the Rhône.
In terms of pairing, we need a cheese just as strong as this type of tea, just like Reblochon or Epoisses.