Anyone who enjoys a fine glass of wine will be familiar with food and wine pairing menus.
Food and wine pairing menus feature recommendations about which wines to pair with what dishes.
They allow guests to make the most of what a restaurant has to offer by providing them with impeccably designed combinations of flavor.
When crafting a pairing menu, expert chefs and sommeliers will have carefully considered how certain aromas, flavors, textures, and mouthfeels complement others.
Their recommendations will be based on their extensive knowledge of the nuances of the worlds of fine foods and beverages.
Less familiar to most, but equally as refined an art, is the pairing of tea with food.
Like wine, tea has a rich and subtle profile of flavors, which can both enhance and be enhanced by the right food pairing.
Green tea is a lighter tea. It tastes delicious when enjoyed alongside lighter foods. Within the broad category of green tea, there are many different varieties.
Different cultivars of green tea are grown and prepared in different ways. As a result, they have disparate flavor profiles. Each variety of green tea has unique notes and its own perfect culinary pairings.
What goes well with green tea?
Green tea from Japan is steamed and has rich, brisk, vegetative flavors. It pairs well with food that has umami flavors, such as tuna, shiitake mushrooms, and soy sauce. Green tea from China is usually smoother and sweeter and pairs well with chicken, tofu, plant-based salads, and jasmine rice.
When pairing tea with food, you want to consider the weightiness of the food and then pair it with a tea that matches its intensity of flavor.
Neither taste should overpower the other.
You should also consider the mouthfeel and texture of the food you are choosing to pair with your tea.
Tea usually has either an astringent mouthfeel, which dries your mouth, or a mellow one, which goes down smoothly.
Oilier foods, such as red meats, pair better with astringent teas. Black teas cause your mouth to feel dryer than green teas, because they have a higher tannin content.
Pair oily red meats with black teas, and do not try to consume them with green teas.
Green teas are lighter and brisker than black teas and therefore combine better with vegetal-flavored foods, such as fish, rice, and other light foods with marine notes.
Food pairings for Gyokuro green tea
Gyokuro is a green tea from Japan. It is grown in the shade for the final four to six weeks before harvesting.
This shading causes the plant to have to produce more chlorophyll to be able to access enough sunlight to continue to photosynthesize properly.
The effect of this is to increase the levels of the amino acid theanine and the alkaloid caffeine in the tea leaves. This is what gives gyokuro its sweet, aromatic flavor.
Gyokuro is grown from specialized varieties of the green tea plant Camellia sinensis, including the Asahi, Okumidori, and Yamakai cultivars.
It is steeped at a lower temperature than other green teas. Doing so preserves some of the sweeter notes that make gyokuro such a special tea.
Gyokuro’s complex flavor profile is mellow, sweet and has notes of seaweed. It pairs well with seafood and vegetables.
Gyokuro is steamed, which gives it a vegetative taste. Gyokuri is considered high in umami and so pairs well with other umami-rich foods, such as soy sauce, oysters, parmesan cheese, tuna, and shiitake mushrooms.
Food pairings for Sencha green tea
Japanese sencha tea has a gentle grassy flavor. It is made from the top leaves of Camellia sinensis bushes. Sencha is a light tea.
Asamushi sencha is steamed for just 30 seconds, and it is therefore the lightest of the sencha teas.
Fukamushi sencha is steamed for more than twice as long as Asamushi, and the result is an aromatic, darker flavor.
As a result of the different steaming times, Asamushi sencha pairs better with lighter dishes, such as fresh goats’ cheeses, shellfish, sashimi, and simple chicken dishes.
Fukashimi sencha, on the other hand, pairs well with food that is a bit heavier. A well-brewed fukashimi, with its vegetative, earthy flavor, tastes delicious when served alongside egg dishes or norimaki sushi.
Food pairings for Genmaicha green tea
Genmaicha is a Japanese brown rice green tea that contains roasted, popped brown rice. It is often called “popcorn tea” or “the people’s tea.”
The rice was historically added to the green tea leaves in order to reduce the cost of the tea.
Today, it is considered a delicious tea in its own right and is widely consumed by people of all classes.
Genmaicha has a light-yellow hue, and a nutty, earthy flavor. Genmaicha pairs well with smoked meat and fish, and rice.
Food pairings for jasmine pearls
Jasmine tea, which is a scented Chinese green tea grown in the Fujian province, has a smooth, sweet taste.
The aromatic flavors of Jasmine tea pair well with lightly spiced white meat, shellfish, and vegetables.
Jasmine green tea is also a delicious dessert tea and helps accentuate the lightly sour notes in tarte tartin, carrot cake, and dark chocolate.
Food pairings for gunpowder green tea
Gunpowder green tea is a Chinese green tea.
Its bold and lightly smoky flavor gives it its nickname. The smoky tones in gunpowder green tea pair well with the bright acidity of vinegar and lemon.
It also tastes delicious served with white fish, mint, and basil.
Longjing or dragon well green tea
Longjing green tea is a pan-roasted green tea. It is roasted in a wok by hand soon after it is picked. This halts the natural oxidation process.
Rich in Vitamin C and amino acids, the tea is produced in the Hangzhou province of China.
Longjing green tea has a sweet, mellow, and well-rounded taste. Some varieties recall notes of asparagus, roasted chestnut, and butter.
The mellow, buttery texture of Longjing pairs well with white fish, shellfish, and white rice.