Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tea and Junk Food Pairings

Pairing tea and food is a fine art, and there is a reason that most fancy articles and tea books focus on haute cuisine tea pairings (inspired by the wine sommeliers that tea sommeliers borrowed their name from.) But let us be honest, most of us are not eating a steak tartare with our regular cups of what do you pair for everyday munching? This is a result of years of drinking tea and pairing it with regular snacks, because that is what I do, I am a consummate nibbler and I am proud of my perpetually full snack box that resides on the back of my desk.

Red Jade and Snickers- This was discovered entirely by accident, I was munching on a Snickers and Espeon jumped on me at the wrong time causing me to choke on it a bit, so I desperately needed a drink and grabbed the Red Jade I had sitting on my desk. Usually I don't like pairing Red Jade with anything because its taste is so spectacular I don't want to be distracted from it. This works especially well with a Red Jade that is more fruity and Sassafras heavy rather than chocolate, it becomes a sweet explosion bringing the nutty notes from the Snickers to the forefront and giving it a taste of honey and stronger nougat. The tea actually tones down the cloying aspect of the candy and focuses on a more pure sweetness, giving it a slightly more artisanal chocolate taste.

Dian Hong and Goldfish Crackers- I have an unhealthy obsession with this style tea and these crackers, they have been my favorite snack since I was tiny. I have tested so many different teas with these crackers, mostly because they are my favorite quite munch for my desk and found that Dian Hongs work best, especially the really yam and peanut heavy ones. The cheese and saltiness bring out the sweetness of the tea, kinda like a salted caramel, it works wonderfully.

Kabusecha and Arare- So, some of the teas I combine with food are because they contradict in really fascinating ways, others are because the combination is so perfect that not including it seems just wrong. Technically arare tastes good with just about any of the Japanese greens, but since they are a classic Japanese snack that makes sense, but I find that the sweet/umami combination of Kabusecha is perfect with the sweet/umami tastes in arare, especially the ones with extra nori bits and the ones stuffed with peanuts. Pure decadence, especially during the summer!

Tai Ping Hou Kui and Blue Cornchips- This pairing is wonderful, the naturally sweet and earthy undertones of the cornchips go well with the sweet undertones of the green tea, plus it is like salsa verde without the heat! Definitely skip the salsa with this though, if you add salsa you no longer taste the fairly delicate tea.

Genmaicha and Pocky- Go ahead, call me a weeb, it is a fair assessment, yes I binge watch Naruto while eating this, what of it? I am not sure what it is with chocolate and green tea, but it is really good together, especially the really umami Japanese greens and darker chocolate. Pocky and Genmaicha are a particular fun combo because it oddly makes the Pocky taste vaguely fruity, like persimmon!

Gui Fei Oolong and Potato Chips- Potato Chips are soooo salty (especially the kind I get, I like my salt) and Gui Fei is sooo sweet, combining these two intense tastes mellows both of them out a bit. You get to taste the potato nuances and more of the subtle floral and at times green notes of the Gui Fei. It is not something I do every time I am nomming on chips, but once in a while it is a really fun treat.

Heavy Roasted Dong Ding and Methi Khakhra- If you don't know what that is, it is a essentially a giant cracker commonly eaten in Gujarat and they come in a ton of flavors, my favorite being Methi aka fenugreek leaves (also love cumin too!) usually they are eaten with chutney or a tangy mango masala spice powder. You would think I would pair this with a robust Indian black tea since it is regional, but my favorite way to eat these is with a big ol' bowl of grandpa steeped dong ding and while lounging reading. It is very much so a comfort snack, the nutty sweetness of the tea pairs really well with the tangy, bitter, and spicy tastes of the Khakhra.

Lishan Oolong and Pistachio Macaron- I discovered this beautiful combo last Christmas, Aldi had a thing of Macarons and I got them for 'research purposes' since I want to get decent at making them, when I ate the box I was drinking some very sweet and floral Lishan Oolong, the other flavors were meh with the oolong, but oh man the nutty sweetness of pistachio was a perfect pairing with the sweetness of the floral oolong.

Golden BiLuoChun and Cheese Curds with Honey- Discovered this beauty on my honeymoon, combining fresh squeaky cheese curds, local locust flower honey, and golden biluochun made one of the best breakfasts! The tangy cheese, sweet honey, and malty tea all really compliment each other, bringing out the best aspects of each, without the honey the curds and tea are fine together but that added burst of honey sweetness is what really pushed it into being memorable!

And that is that! There are tons more pairings out there, but these are the ones that seemed really memorable, the next one of these will hopefully be from Madison, where I actually do get fancy and devote a pairing to cheeses!

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