Perfect Pairings: What Goes Well with Tea?
While savoring the delightful taste and aroma of tea on its own is an experience in itself, exploring the world of tea pairings, similar to food and wine pairings, can take your cozy ritual to new heights. In this post we review the well-documented and occasionally controversial topic of food and tea pairings so you can decide for yourself.
What dessert goes well with tea?
With its comforting warmth and inviting aroma, most teas are typically enjoyed alongside an assortment of baked goodies that complement its flavors. Among these delectable options, cookies, miniature cakes, and biscuits stand out as quintessential companions to a cup of tea.
Pairing tea with cookies creates a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that satisfies the palate in the most delightful way. Whether it's shortbread cookies with a buttery and crumbly texture, dainty macarons with sweet and airy shells and decadent cream fillings, or a rich and chewy chocolate chip cookie, choose a tea that effortlessly blends with your desserts and enhances the overall tea-drinking experience.
When it comes to cakes, fancy, bite-sized, often ornately decorated petit fours get the most attention–they’re also the sweet treat that most often sits on the top tier of a classic 3-tier cake stand.
Along with tea cakes like French madeleines, small, bite-sized sweets allow for sampling a variety of flavors, from delicate sponge cakes layered with fruit jams to decadent chocolate ganache-covered confections. Choose the right cup of tea and the combination can create a scrumptious blend as the nuances of the cakes intermingle with the fragrant notes of the tea.
No discussion about tea and food pairings would be complete without mentioning biscuits. From buttery shortbread and tea cakes to crunchy digestives, biscuits are a timeless choice to enjoy with your tea thanks to their simplicity and versatility. Furthermore, the act of dipping a biscuit into a cup of tea, allowing it to soften just enough before savoring the combined flavors as they melt away in your mouth, is a ritual cherished by tea lovers around the world.
What snacks go well with tea?
Thanks to their complementary texture, flavor, and association with cream and jam, scones go exceptionally well with tea. The soft, crumbly texture of scones contrasts with the smoothness of tea, while their mild sweetness complements and doesn't overpower the tea's delicate flavors. For an indulgent tea experience, a classic English cream tea with freshly baked scones topped with clotted cream and strawberry jam is the way to go.
The buttery, flaky texture of pastries like croissants, hot cross buns, or cinnamon rolls can also be paired with many kinds of tea and makes for a satisfying snack at any time of the day.
For an indulgent tea experience for any occasion, treat yourself to flaky and buttery croissants, danishes, or pain au chocolat.
Picture ℅ of TeaTime Magazine, featuring The Brooklyn Teacup’s blue and white transferware collection china and serving pieces.
What food goes well with tea?
Turn tea time into a dainty yet fully satisfying meal with an assortment of sandwiches and savory options. While tea is often associated with sweets, this favorite pastime is frequently (and historically!) enjoyed with a variety of savory pairings.
Tea sandwiches (a.k.a. finger sandwiches) and pinwheels with spreads like cucumber with cream cheese, smoked salmon or egg salad signal a traditional afternoon tea menu. However, there are many other options if you're looking to serve something out of the ordinary. For example, to turn a light tea snack into a more substantial meal, consider adding miniature quiches and savory pies.
Photo by Leatal Cohen, Pic and Petal
Fresh fruit: A refreshing addition to tea experience
Bring a of healthy helping of flavor to tea time with fresh fruit. Stone fruits such as peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots complement tea beautifully, as do berries and citrus fruits.
Not only does fruit enhance the taste of both the tea and the accompanying snack, but it serves as a healthful, antioxidant-rich alternative to the other sugary delights on your table. Plus, if you have guests with allergies or food sensitivities, fresh fruit is almost always a safe bet.
Two tier cake stand used as tiered grazing board made from vintage fine china.
Serving cheese, charcuterie, and crackers to pair with tea.
Cheese and charcuterie
If you're into rich and complex flavors, tea and cheese can be a dream pair. Creamy cheeses like brie, sharp cheddar, and blue cheese work wonders with certain smooth and subtle teas. We find that the rich, umami flavors of cheese and the crunchy texture of crackers create a pleasing contrast to the silky smooth mouth-feel of tea.
If the idea of having both in your mouth at the same time sounds less than appealing, try keeping a neutral-tasting cracker or wafer nearby to act as a palate cleanser. This way you can refresh the taste buds between sips!
What serving piece is good for enjoying food with tea?
One thing we know for sure is that a tiered serving tray is the ideal way to present most if not all of the snacks, desserts and savory bites that accompany tea. Not only do these eye-catching pieces make for an impressive and sophisticated presentation, the tiers help separate the various courses without fuss or needing to go back and forth to the kitchen.
When you're not serving an elaborate 3 course tea party menu, a 3-Tier can be easily transformed into a smaller 2-Tier for brunch and casual family gatherings.
Shop all 3-Tier Serving Trays
For pairing with your tea party menu & more
Conclusion: So what goes well with tea?
Tea is a highly versatile beverage that can be paired with a wide range of foods to enhance your tea-drinking experience. Whether you prefer sweet or savory, light or indulgent, there are countless options to explore. From biscuits and cookies to cheese and charcuterie, each pairing brings its own delightful flavors to the table
As is true of most things in life, the best way to figure out what tea and food pairings work well depends on your personal taste preferences; You’ll never know what you like until you try it for yourself.
Certified tea master and author of The Tea Curator, Anna Kydd, also believes that experimentation is the best way to discover which pairings work best. Based on a pairing list she developed, we created the above Tea & Food Pairing Recommendations “cheat sheet” to serve as a starting point. When in doubt, Anna advises, “black tea goes with everything!” We agree. 🙂
If this post encouraged you to experiment with your pairings, let us know by dropping a note in the comments. Cheers and happy nibbling!