How To Host A Tea & Cheese Pairing Party
Learn and understand how to create a tea & cheese pairing platter in this simple, basic guide.
Similar to wine, tea has multiple layers of subtle flavor and a wide spectrum of tasting notes depending on the region that it was grown in. Most simply, tea leaves contains tannins that are also found in grapes. It is this substance that gives that tart, astringent taste when you sip a deep, red wine. Tannins also adds to the beautiful colour in both wine and tea.
Black tea is most tannin-rich, while white and green teas contain very low levels of tannins. When creating a cheese platter to go with teas, ensuring you have a variety of black, white, green and floral teas will make for a well-rounded and beautiful range.
Beyond these simple categories of green, white, black or floral, we know that there are many styles of teas to choose from – take for example the bergamot-scented black Earl Grey Tea, Darjeeling or a smoky Lapsang Souchong in the black tea category. The vegetal sweetness of Jasmine green tea or refreshingly minty peppermint tea. Floral blends like our Peace Tea filled with calming chamomile and relaxing lavender that lulls you into a sweet dream.
The wondrous universe of tea.
PICK YOUR BEST BREWS
To get started on planning your tea & cheese pairing party, you’ll need to select the teas from the great universe of tea. We suggest having 2 to 3 varieties of black teas, a green or white tea. You can also add on a floral-based tisane.
Tip: Tea can be enjoyed both hot or iced depending on your personal preference. Cold brew teas can have a smoother, rounder taste and the temperature can create a different play on the palate. Avoid adding milk, cream or sugar when having a tea and cheese party, as the tea should be tasted as it is without any distractions!
GET CREATIVE WITH CHEESES
Aim for about 5 different cheeses on your cheeseboard. Take note of various textures (hard, semi-hard, creamy or soft), milks (sheep, cow or goat), and regions where the cheeses are from when at the grocer’s. A little rhyme we heard: Go for…
and something blue.
Old/Aged cheeses (hard, crumbly, strong savoury taste) – Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Gruyère, Gouda, Manchego
Brie and Camembert are decadent, aged cheeses which you’d find are buttery and creamy as compared to the others. They have a stronger fungi smell.
New/Fresh cheeses (mild, milky white, moist) – Mozzarella, Burrata, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Feta
Goat cheese – Chevre or Brie made with goat’s milk
Blue cheese – Morbier, Stilton, Roquefort
Tip: Always enjoy the cheeses starting from mild to strong.
EMBELLISHMENTS ARE KEY
No platter is complete without additions like good bread, crackers, fruits and maybe even some cured ham. These are some ideas to jazz up your board:
- Bread, crackers
- Nuts – almonds, pistachios, macadamia, walnuts
- Dried Fruits – raisins, dried figs
- Fresh Fruits – grapes, figs, strawberries, blueberries
FINDING PERFECT PAIRS
At your tea & cheese party, remember to experiment widely in order to find a match you love. It’s good to understand that pairings can be complementary, where similar flavours in the tea and cheese meld together to complement each other, or contrasting, whereby distinct notes help balance each other.
Begin by trying each tea and cheese separately to comprehend their nuances, then together to see how they blend. Food writer and tea consultant, Kenny Leong, shares that he uses a systemic approach to evaluating tea aromas. “First, identify what group the aromas belong to — is it fruity, woody, spicy, vegetal or meaty? Then, narrow it down and associate it with a familiar flavour or food — does it smell like peaches, apricots, limes, oranges, apples, or pears? One can even get really specific, like ‘melon near the rind’ (which is usually a little more tart and astringent than the sweeter flesh of the melon towards the centre) or ‘apple near the core’. It could also be that the aroma reminds one of almonds, walnuts, macadamia, chestnuts, and so on. It may even be vegetal aromas like moss or boiled cabbage,” he explains.
There are no rules to the art of pairing, but as a general guideline, lighter teas would work well with milder cheeses as it would not overpower the drink. Think white tea with ricotta or buffalo.
Try green tea with goat’s cheese or manchego. The smooth grassy nuances are said to be more distinct when enjoyed with goat’s cheese. Green tea can also be paired with cheddar, as the mellowness of the brew will smoothen out the sharpness of the aged cheese.
Assam tea, a more full-bodied tea, is another brew you can try with goat’s cheese. It’s robust body means it can stand up to the creaminess of goat’s cheese.Our Queen Victoria organic English Breakfast blend is a fine example of black tea leaves from the Assam region. It has a creamy, maltiness which would be lovely with the tart burst of flavor of a strong cheese like blue cheese even! Imagine a spread of savoury cheese on bread and a sip of smooth black tea. Bliss.
Remember to explore and keep sampling. It’s fun to have a little notebook along the way to write down some of your findings.
Get a few friends and have an afternoon tea (& cheese) session.
If you’re interested to read more on pairing tea with food, stay tuned for our interview with food writer and tea consultant, Kenny Leong in an upcoming blog post.