In the East – China, India and Japan specifically – the variety of teas have evolved naturally over the years, much like wines have evolved in the West. There are many similarities between tea and wine: each has its own unique aroma, texture and taste. When pairing wine and food, you must consider carefully the wine’s characteristics in order to correctly match with the smells, flavours and textures of the food. This same process can be applied to tea and food pairing.
Each tea should be considered for smell, flavour and taste. It is these three qualities that will work either for or against certain dishes. That being said, it’s not necessary for a person to have a particularly sophisticated knowledge of food or wine to successfully pair teas. Thankfully, tea is particularly versatile – for example, a floral oolong works with spicy dishes; its buttery texture complements the flavour of chocolate; and its fruitiness means it goes particularly well with seafood and meat.
The Chinese have been drinking tea with food for thousands of years, and the cuisine is as diverse as the variety of teas. There are over 40 teas on offer at Yauatcha, each with its own distinct flavour. Some teas complement most dishes, while other teas are best paired with specific dishes.
Eder Neto, Senior Bar Manager, makes some tea and dim sum pairing suggestions below.
White tea tends to have a mild flavour, and therefore suits dishes that are light in taste and texture. Many foods will overwhelm the fragrant and sweet taste of white tea.
Silver Needle pairs perfectly with a meaty seafood dish, such as the King crab dumpling.
There are three different flavour profiles of green tea: vegetal (fresh, grassy flavour), smoky (stronger tasting), and fruity (light and fragrant). Vegetal green teas (generally representative of Japanese green teas) go well with seafood due to their freshness. Smoky green teas (such as Chinese green teas) can be paired with stronger tasting food, such as red meats, but shouldn’t be enjoyed with sweet desserts as the sugar will bring out the bitterness of the tea. Fruity green teas (like the Ceylon and Indian green teas) match particularly well with light meats. They can also be used in iced teas.
The classic Dragon’s Well green tea from Taiwan pairs perfectly with light, delicate flavours such as the Poached Peking chicken dumpling.
Blue (or oolong) teas can be divided into two different categories: light and dark. Light blue teas are fruity, floral and sweet, while dark blue teas are full-bodied, smoky and strong.
The flowery but robust flavours of the roasted blue tea Anxi Tie Kuan Yin from China pairs perfectly with the sticky Stir-fry rib eye beef in black bean sauce, while the warm, woody aroma of the Phoenix Shui Xian from China will complement the lightly spiced Kung Pao chicken with cashew nut.
Black teas can be divided into three categories: fruity, earthy and smoky. Their robust flavours and aromas (as well as the most pronounced tannins) are suited to pairing with full-flavoured foods such as meat dishes and heavier sauces.
The smooth and creamy Tian Hong from China pairs perfectly with the sticky, sweet and unctuous Jasmine tea smoked ribs.