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What Tea Goes With What Food

Updated on November 4, 2007
High Tea -- Let's Eat!
High Tea -- Let's Eat!

Why should the wine lovers have all the fun? The right tea can not only blend with your food, but make your meal not just a must, but a real delight. And you won't get drunk, either. We'll take a look at some of the major groups of teas and what foods seem to go best with them.

Black Teas

Goes great with Oriental food such as Indian, Thai or Chinese, especially the kind called Chai, which is made with some of the same cooking spices as in classic Oriental cooking. But black teas also compliment silky, creamy treats like ice cream, yogurt or a bowl of breakfast cereal. If you are serving chocolate with your black tea, consider making the tea with less sweetener, so your taste buds don't go on such a sugar overload, you won't really be able to taste anything other than sugar. Although I think black teas with cream work with lemon-flavored foods, many other people find too much of a clash between the lemon and the cream.

Some foods that especially go well with black teas:

  • cookies or biscuits (of course!)
  • a cold cheese sandwich
  • peanut butter anything
  • cheese and crackers
  • ham

Green Teas

A lot of people don't realize green tea can be drunk hot and not always iced. Green teas have a taste you have to get used to. Some people find the bitterness builds up with each cup, and so can only have one or two cups a day. I prefer to have my cup with a snack or a light meal, say of a salad with some cooked chopped chicken included. Oddly enough, I've started eating pretzels or Cheez-Its with my daily cup of green tea. It seems the salt cuts down on the bitterness of any green tea I might have accidentally over brewed (but can't afford to throw out). I've also tried salad and meat sandwiches with green tea that seem to blend well together.

White Tea

Are you kidding? It costs more than herbal, black or green teas, and so delicate that it is recommended to keep any white tea as a sipping tea just for the sole purpose of drinking tea. Very bland biscuits or cookies may work with it, but so far, any food seems to clash with white tea to me.

Herbal Tea

There are many kinds of herbal teas, with vastly different flavors. I'll try to break them down in three basic groups:

  • Fruity: See white tea. If you find the tea may be too sweet, balance the taste with a salty snack.
  • Medicinal: These usually have combinations of herbs, spices and leaves in order to make you feel better, not necessarily to be a pleasure to drink. Some "sleepytime" blends work great with a light snack, like a small bowl of cereal or a peanut butter sandwich, provided the mint is mild and there is no eucalyptus which can completely overwhelm the palette.
  • Grassy: Nettle tea would be a prime example here. They taste a bit like cooking water, only a lot better. These go with almost any kind of dinner you can imagine. They often don't need sweetener. Not recommended for breakfast.

Red Bush Tea (Rooibos)

This naturally decaffeinated yet energizing tea from South Africa is a well-known favorite in Europe, especially England, and is making a splash over in the States. This has a unique taste which makes a delightful change from your regular black tea. You can drink this with or without milk. It goes great with almost any kind of food except dishes based with heavy tomato sauces or lots of mustard.

In Conclusion

Don't be afraid to experiment with one kind of tea and another kind of food. You might find combinations that are not mentioned here. Have fun with it. That means anytime can be tea time.

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