3 Unusual Tea and Food Pairings

Brie with Matcha Infused Sencha

Matcha Infused Sencha and Brie

Tea has been consumed with food for centuries, so it seems rather funny to talk about tea and food pairings. However, as high quality tea becomes more widely available there are many opportunities to look at what you want to eat with your prized tea to enhance its flavor and give you new experiences. We bet there are certain foods you wouldn’t think to have a cup of tea with. So here are 3 unusual tea and food pairings you might want to try.

  1. Brie and Matcha Infused Sencha – Yes, France meets Japan. Given that Brie is typically paired with a Chardonnay or fruity light red wine, Matcha Infused Sencha was a shock. This grassy tea compliments the Brie and enhances its flavor without losing its own. The two together create a lite nutty flavor that is smooth and creamy.
  2. Tomato, Basil & Garlic Pasta with 2nd Flush Darjeeling – Pairing this fragrant, yet strong, tea with a tomato sauce makes for lovely combination. The crisp Darjeeling cuts the acidity of the sauce while enhancing the basil with other herbal notes. Darjeeling is surprisingly versatile, so pair it with your favorite tomato sauce and pasta combination. It also stands up to your favorite spicy dishes.
  3. Roasted Nuts & Himalayan White – The next time you reach for your favorite roasted nut for a snack, grab a cup of white tea to go with it. The combination of the salty nut and floral white make a third flavor together that is like cream. This is especially true with pistachios, cashews, and almonds.

Pairing tea with meals is similar to pairing wine with meals. Lighter teas with lighter foods and stronger teas with stronger foods. However, don’t allow that guidance to stop you from experimenting. The complex flavors in teas make them very versatile and fun to play with. So bring out your favorite tea and pair it with some of your favorite foods you wouldn’t consider. You will be amazed at what you find.

 

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History of the Tea Cozy

The tea cozy (cosy in British English) is first documented in writing in 1867 in England, but is actually believed to have been around since the introduction of tea to England back in the late 1600’s. This handy device keeps your teapot warm. Given that afternoon tea became fashionable in the 1840’s, it is more likely they were in use sooner. Afternoon tea was a social affair, so conversation dominated and tea could quickly get cold. So, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Tea Cozy Design

This humble device is built to allow you to pour and easily gain access to the lid to refill. Originally made of linen, they are now made of any washable material. Afternoon tea was popular in mainTeaCozystream culture during the Victorian Era, so the tea cozy became a highly embroidered cover and fashion statement for the teapot. If was fashionable during the Victorian Era to decorate just about every object in your house. The tea cozies of the time resembled something of a knitted hat that wrapped the teapot from the bottom up or a cover that draped over the pot and was removed every time you needed to pour. More recently, the tea cozy has become something of a fashion statement or artistic center piece for your tea party. They are a combination of knitting and sewing. If you think you want this, there are books on how to make some really unique tea cozies.

When to Put on the Tea Cozy

Newspapers of mid 1800’s actually debated when it was appropriate to put the cozy on the teapot, before or after steeping. The concern was that the cozy would cause the water to be too hot to steep. This is actually a legitimate concern if you are steeping green tea, which would have been the dominant tea in the 1800’s. If you are steeping a black tea, hotter is better. Ultimately is seems to be a personal preference as long as you factor in water temperature.

In closing, if you ever need to keep the teapot warm for long conversations, the tea cozy is not a bad addition to your tea accessories and you can make it yourself.

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Iced White Tea: Good or Bad Idea?

Iced White Tea - Betsy Ross White

Iced Betsy Ross White

Iced white tea is an oddly controversial topic for tea snobs. This beautifully delicate tea has a very loyal following, most of whom would turn their nose up on icing their favorite tea. Others are willing to be more flexible, stating that Bai Hao Silver Needle should never be iced while Bai Mou Dan is fine to ice. Well, we like to consider all perspectives and equip tea drinkers with the knowledge to play with their favorite beverage. Of course you can ice white tea. Will you like it iced is really the question. So here are 3 hints on how to approach making iced white tea.

  1. Humans are very bad at tasting cold food and beverages. Good quality unflavored white tea is very subtle with a light floral aroma, which is sometimes hard to detect when it is iced. If you want to try Bai Hao Silver Needle cold, we highly recommend the cold brew method. It does a much better job holding in the floral flavors than a traditional iced tea maker or brewing it warm and pouring it over ice.
  2. Flavored/Blended white teas are perfect for ice. The other ingredients, like freeze dried elderberries or star anise, are still detectable in cold tea. The iced white tea we like the best is Betsy Ross White.
  3. Watch your temperatures and cold brew your white tea! If you need to make a batch fast and do not have the 8-10 hours for cold brew, make sure to steep the white tea in water below 185°F. If you brew it above this temperature, it will be bitter as you will have burnt your tea.

So play with white tea iced. You may find you like this lighter alternative to our traditional black iced teas. Let us know about your favorite iced white tea in the comments!

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Tea Infused Foam: Fun with Cocktails and Mocktails

What is tea infused foam? Great question! It is a fun way to play with your cocktails and a good excuse to have your own whipped cream dispenser. Below we will give you a few tips and tricks on making your own and even point out the recipes that can be done with a standard kitchen whisk.

History of Foamy Cocktails

So the foam in cocktails is traditionally made with egg whites. Eggs have been added to beverages since the Middle Ages. Keep in mind that alcohol was common beverage since the technology and knowledge of how to make most water safe to drink was not available. The modern day version of egg cocktails came in the late 1800’s and all of them involve shaking the cocktail. Modern technology, in the form of the modern day whipped cream dispenser, allow us to bypass shaking and to substitute the egg.

Tea Infused Foam Recipes

Lighter Foam

1 tsp of Egg Replacer

1 tablespoon of water

16 oz of Cold Tea (Your favorite flavor)

Stir together the egg replacer and water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add the tea and the egg replacer to the whipped cream dispenser and shake hard for about 30 seconds before adding the gas canister to the dispenser. Shake again for a few more seconds after the canister has emptied into the dispenser. It is ready to use on your favorite beverage. We love adding Chocolate Mint foam to iced Earl Grey. If you would like to use egg, it is just egg white from 1 egg instead of the egg replacer and water in this recipe.

Note:  Egg replacer will not foam without the dispenser, so there is no point in trying a whisk on this recipe.

Stiff Foam

1 tsp Guar Gum

16oz of Cold Tea

Whisk together the guar gum and cold tea until the guar gum is dissolved and a foamy gel is formed. The gel will be heavy and sink into the drink if not added to the whipped cream dispenser. So while it can be spooned directly onto the drink, it may work better and be even more foamy if put it in the whipped cream dispenser for application.

Enjoy using the foam as a way to change up your ice team or favorite foamy cocktail.

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Southern Afternoon Tea: An American Tradition

Sweet Tea // Ice Tea

Popular throughout the American south, Sweet Tea can be a great way to beat the summer heat. Photo by liz west (Flickr) – CC BY 2.0 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/641462022/

With iced tea season on hand, it is time to look at another American twist to tea, the southern afternoon tea. If you haven’t guessed already, the main beverage of the southern afternoon tea is iced tea. So let’s take a look at its origins and then what to serve to make your southern afternoon tea truly American.

Southern Afternoon Tea – History

Afternoon teas in the US mimic British teas during the 1700’s. However, as the ice box and refrigeration developed in the US, so did iced tea. Keep in mind, a high temperature in London is the upper 60’s for the summer. In most of the southern US it is a good 20 degrees warmer, so ice became very popular very quickly in our country. Sweet iced tea, with black tea as the base, first appeared in the 1870’s. Before that, it was green tea that served as the base to iced tea. In the wealthy plantations the tea was served over ice with sugar and a slice of lemon. Periodically herbs like mint or basil were added as garnish.

Southern Afternoon Tea – What to Serve

A southern tea needs American food, luckily there is no shortage of historic recipes to draw from when crafting your menu. Much like the British, the southern tea includes both sweet and savory items. The big difference is the use of ingredients and foods that reflect what was available in the early to mid-1800’s in the United States. Of course you can update this with your favorite family recipes.

  • Southern Tea Cake – This soft cake like cookie is the simple combination of sugar, flour, eggs, milk, butter,and pearlash (an early form of leavening agent, like yeast). Today’s version includes vanilla, baking powder and salt. These versatile cakes can be eaten plain or used much like the British scone.
  • Apple Tansey – This calls for a true cast iron skillet to get right. First published in 1742 in Williamsburg, VA, this treat is highlighted in the Complete Housewife, which was originally published in England but was reworked by William Parks for American tastes. This recipe calls for Pipin Apples (Granny Smith seem to be a favored alternative), butter, eggs, cream, sugar and nutmeg. The goal is to fry the apples in butter and then add the eggs and cream and have it brown on one side and then flip (or cook under a broiler) to brown the other. Think of it like a sweet apple frittata.
  • Ambrosia Salad

    Ambrosia Salad – Photo by Flickr User Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0)

    Ambrosia Salad – This fruit salad appeared in the 1860’s as the railroad connected the southern citrus fields with the northern Eastern cities. As California opened up, coconut was commonly delivered into San Francisco and made its way east for those who could afford it. Ambrosia salad was originally a layered salad of shredded coconut, sugar and citrus. It has since had pecans and marshmallows added to it.

  • Biscuits with Ham – Pigs were a big staple in all early American homes. They provided both protein and fat for cooking other foods that could be cured with salt for long term storage.

So the next time you are thinking about afternoon tea, try the American version!

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