Something is cheesy at tea time. More and more, people are pairing cheeses with their teas for a truly harmonious taste experience. Time to join in the fun!
Cheese and wine are a well-known combination. In some people’s minds, they are as natural together as apple pie and ice cream, hot dogs and baseball games, or even SUVs and Soccer Moms. Beer is getting more into the act, too, which isn’t surprising with all the microbreweries around. (When I lived in Germany, just about every town there seemed to have one.) Lately, though, cheese is becoming a bigger part of tea time!
Yes, cheese and tea pairings are becoming the rage, with parties devoted to this fine art of selection seeming to be more and more common. Some pros in this area are so adept at successful pairings, they could put the folks at eHarmony.com to shame! (Sorry, cheesy humor there.)
One of these pros is Steven Smith, founder of two well-known tea brands (Stash and Tazo). He is now proprietor of a specialty tea shop in Portland, Oregon, where he blends teas and serves them in his tea room along with cheeses from Rogue Creamery. He pairs creamy, rich, sharp cheeses with Yunnan and blue cheeses with Mao Feng Shui, plus many more.
You don’t have to travel to Portland, though, to put your own pairings together. There are some basics to keep in mind, and you can do your own experiments.
One of the big factors to consider is cheese firmness (texture). If you prefer spreadable, runny, or soft cheeses, your tea choices are different than with firm-to-hard cheeses. Soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert both go well with Dragonwell, and crumbly yet strong tasting goat cheese goes with Assam.
If your taste goes more to those firm-to-hard cheeses such as cheddar or Edam, then some good tea options are Autumn Darjeeling, Tung Ting Oolong, Keemun, Chun Mee, a black Ceylon, and Pai Mu Tan (White Peony). However, Sencha can mellow out a sharp hunk of Manchego.
Flavor strength is another consideration. Limburger is truly odiferous, so you need a stronger flavored tea to go with it such as the rich smokiness of Lapsang Souchong. Milder cheeses like Asiago need a more delicate tea taste like you get in Kukicha or Sencha.
These are just a few tips to get you started adding a bit of cheese to your tea time. Do your own pairings, lining up your teas, labeled with their names, along one side of the table and your cheeses along the other side, little labels proudly declaring “Stilton,” “Feta,” “Havarti,” “Parmesan,” etc. It’ll look sort of like those high school dances where the guys are on one side of the room and the girls on the other. Be sure the cheeses are room temperature so their true flavors will come out. The teas should be served at the temperature that is suitable for them. For example, Assams are great piping hot while Oolongs and greens can be more flavorful when they have cooled slightly in the cup.
Feel free to leave a comment here to let me know how it went. You’ll be doing your part for tea and cheese lovers everywhere. Thanks!
Don’t miss A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!
© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.