Tea is a great, but unfortunately underestimated, stimulant in my opinion. Tea products, including those used for weight loss such as the fat-burning Tea Burn (check out Tea Burn customer reviews here), are particularly popular and less the “real” varieties that descend from the tea plant.
Even as a food accompaniment, tea is still unknown, as wine is primarily offered. But no wonder, because wine has extensive flavors and fine nuances that harmonize with a wide variety of dishes and can highlight the aromas even better.
Only that’s exactly what tea can do – well, tea lovers have known this for a long time! Tea also has a wide range of different aromas and a huge variety of tastes, which result from the different varieties, qualities, growing regions, processing of the leaves, and aromatizations.
Especially due to the increasing demand for an alcohol-free alternative to wine, tea is now slowly being discovered! The first steps are already taken in the upscale gastronomy and tea is served as a companion to the meal. Some restaurants offer entire menus in which the right tea is served for each course. One of them is award-winning chef Emanuel Weyringer from Restaurant Weyringer Wallersee. He deliberately uses the combination of tea and food – not only tea as a drink with food but also tea as an ingredient in cooking. But more on that a little later!
First of all, I would like to tell you more about food pairing – because that’s the technical term when it comes to combining different flavors. More specifically, it’s actually about defining or filtering out the key flavors of each ingredient to connect the different foods and create unique taste experiences. And thus either to find the right tea for an ingredient or a dish or to use the right tea as an ingredient for cooking.
Food pairing uses chefs and bartenders to put together new recipes. Today, the combination is no longer based purely on the art of cooking and the intuition of the chef, but on scientific results. It is important to find out the dynamics between the flavors and to analyze the flavoring substances that are hidden in food. If this finds the right tea, it can balance the dish or highlight certain flavors. This opens up new possibilities for culinary experiences and the culinary diversity expands.
Hanni Rützler, the food trend researcher from Vienna, agrees, as she explained at our Foodpairing Workshop at the DIMMERS TEEHAUS Mölker Bastei in April 2017: “Food pairing serves to expand the taste horizon. And at the same time promises to put the excesses of “creative innovations” in their place, which have washed up molecular cuisine and the fusion food trend as flotsam: combinations that are merely “original”, but culinarily completely wrong.”
The principle of food pairing is based on the taste experience, which is composed of the smell, the taste on the tongue or in the mouth (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami), and the consistency of the food has. The taste itself is formed by the combination of the different flavoring substances found in food that can be analyzed in a laboratory. Each ingredient has a specific aromatic profile that has certain key aromas that are dominant and thus mainly responsible for the taste expression. If these main flavors of different ingredients match, they go together and can be wonderfully combined.
Black tea, for example, has a malty, spicy, strong aroma due to the oxidation of the leaves during the processing process, which also has a roasted taste – just like chocolate or soy sauce, for example. The cocoa beans are also fermented and roasted and in the production of soy sauce, a fermentation process is also carried out and a spicy, full-bodied aroma is formed.
Green tea, on the other hand, can taste a bit tart, fresh, grassy, and also fruity depending on the growing area and therefore goes very well with fresh, green, aromatic, but also spicy ingredients, such as lemongrass, ginger, pineapple, tomatoes, artichokes, apple, cucumber, but also bacon or rum.
Of course, the taste of tea is also pronounced by its texture and methods of preparation. Whether cold or hot infused, various aromas can be intensified, which are bound in the tea leaves. But even which mouthfeel a variety leaves behind contributes to the taste – some teas leave a soft, creamy feeling (such as Milky Oolong), others have an astringent effect and leave a dry, furry taste, which is often described in strong Assam tea.
Based on the food pairing analyses and key flavors, which are stored in a database and can be viewed, Emanuel Weyringer has put together 5 extraordinary dishes for us, in which different teams are paired with fine ingredients.
Food pairing with tea
Pairings with Japanese Green Tea
Green tea from Japan is known for its particularly fresh, grassy note. The gyokuro is one of the shade teas and is shaded with tarpaulins a few weeks before harvest, which puts the plant under stress and thus produces a lot of chlorophyll. As a result, a particularly large number of ingredients develop in the leaf, the tea receives a beautiful dark green, rich color and the taste has a pronounced umami note. The infusion of light yellow tea, therefore, goes perfectly with foods that have a fishy, vegetable, bready note, as sometimes the umami taste is described.
Pairings with Jasmin Tee
In this special green tea from an organic tea garden in China, the leaves are flavored with delicate jasmine flowers. The flowers are mixed under the leaves and as soon as the floral, fragrant aroma has been adopted, they are sorted out again in elaborate manual work. The tea has a light yellow cup color and a very soft, fruity taste with a floral scent.
Pairings with Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is a particularly rare and usually very expensive type of tea from Japan. Green tea, like gyokuro, is shaded before harvest and processed very elaborately and carefully. The leaf ribs are separated from the meat and this results in the so-called trench. The dried leaves are slowly processed into the finest powder in stone mills. The special feature of this powder tea is the jade green color, which is retained even after cooking and baking and thus gives the food an extraordinary appearance. But also the taste is incomparable with other tea – Matcha is mild, sweet, fruity, but at the same time a little tart, intense and aromatic. Matcha harmonizes very well with sweet dishes, such as chocolate, sugar, milk, but also with fresh flavors that are also spicy, aromatic, and full-bodied.
Pairings with black tea
There are many different black teas and depending on the growing region, the taste is different. Especially the tea from Assam in India, one of the largest contiguous cultivation areas in the world, tastes very spicy, malty and is very often drunk with a little milk. Due to the oxidation during processing, a strong aroma is formed, which has a so-called strong body. This describes the feeling that the tea tastes full-bodied. Due to the spice, the tea also goes very well with fruity, but also roasted, malty, smoky, spicy foods.
Pairings with Oolong Tea
Oolong tea loves in the processing between green and black tea and depending on how much the fermentation has progressed, a different taste develops. The special thing, however, is the very soft, almost creamy, mild taste, and with green oolong the few tannins. In the Milky Oolong variety, the tea leaves are flavored with the steam of milk and thus acquire a milky, creamy, buttery taste. Many also think that it tastes almost like a dessert. Due to this milky aroma, the tea harmonizes very well with caramel, chocolatey, nutty ingredients.
Cooking with tea is nothing new to us – you can already read and cook many fine recipes on our website!
Have fun experimenting with tea!