05 October 2011

Food and Tea…Together

I love Vancouver BC’s Chinese food and its availability of all things Chinese (herbs, snacks, music…).  Vancouver’s Chinese radio station is great as well, especially on Sunday afternoons when they have cool talks on a variety of life and lifestyle topics.

1986 dd It’s Fall, time for darker, full-bodied teas like this traditional Dong Ding

A few months ago, the station did a segment on ideas for food and tea pairings, given by a long-time tea drinker who is also a self-trained chef.  I tuned in late and missed a lot of the segment, but he talked a lot about the contrast of flavors.  You don’t want to, he said, pair similar foods with similar teas, just as you wouldn’t eat a sweet dessert after drinking orange juice, which would mute the desserts bounty of flavors.

The guest speaker compared tea pairings to wine pairings, which he has also studied in.  Because of tea’s relatively delicate tastes, he recommends foods that are lighter in flavor.

Some of his recommendations:

-With a sweet dessert, he recommends a smoky and/or bold tea, like a Wuyi Yancha or a Tieguanyin.  Pu’er also works, but doesn’t always highlight the range of a dessert’s flavors.

-For foods that have some tartness, like cheese, he said something like a traditional Phoenix Dancong with strong oxidation and a fruity note would be good.  Per his reasoning, Taiwan’s Oriental Beauty may also be a good choice.

-For a light and dry dessert (e.g. pastries, sponge cake…) he believes that a fresh and “thinner” tea, like a green Longjing or a white Longevity Brow (Shou Mei) would work nicely.

-For an after-dinner digestif, Pu’er is a wonderful choice.  He said something thick and heavy, like an old pu’er or a cooked cake, would work best.

In addition to pairing tea as a beverage with different dishes, there are many blog articles and even a few Chinese cookbooks that have touched upon using tea in cooking.  The trick is to make the tea a star in the dish, not just a supporting character.

Experiment and enjoy the new experiences of paired consumption.


  1. Hey Rich,
    It was nice to drink tea with you this afternoon! Enjoy the rest of the day.


  2. Hey Steve, great to see you today as well. Thanks so much for sharing that TGY - very delicious! See you soon.


  3. Steve, BTW, the whiskey is called Bernheim's. It's now about $28 or so at the store.


  4. Thanks Rich. I'll check it out.