Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tea & Cheese

 Tomme Blanche, Brie Paysan, Kaskaval by MOs810
While attending the Coffee & Tea Festival in New York City last week, I took a tea seminar that would make a cheese lover smile.  The seminar was called “Tea and Cheese” and it was presented by Chef Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier and co-author of the book Culinary Tea.  Gold has developed her own unique ‘Tea Cuisine, including lines of signature teas as well as Tea Cocktails and ‘Tea Cuisine’ dishes.  Her culinary training is from Johnson and Wales and the Culinary Institute of America.

Wearing her white chef’s uniform, Gold discussed how to balance flavor, texture and feel when pairing teas and cheeses.  Gold recommended pairing an astringent tea with a soft rich fatty cheese.  The astringent tea essentially cleanses the palate so that the taster's next bite of the cheese can be fully experienced.  With a sip of astringent tea, balance is returned to a person's palate after eating a cheese that contains a good amount of fat. 

In class, we tried a first flush Darjeeling with a brie cheese.  Brie cheese is known for its fatty creaminess and First Flush Darjeeling is known for its astringency.  Normally my brie quota is a couple of bites before I find I can’t go on due to the richness.  But sipping the First Flush Darjeeling in between bites of the brie made me feel like I could eat brie all day.  Gold also recommended pairing a gunpowder green tea (another astringent tea) with brie cheese.

License: artlibre
Taming pungency” is another concept Gold discussed.  For example, Gold recommended a smoky tea to tame a pungent cheese.  The class sampled a pungent blue cheese with a Lapsang Souchong.  This tea is traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires and consequently has a distinctive smoky flavor.  I did find that the powerful smoky flavor of the Lapsang Souchong nicely counterbalanced the strong taste of the blue cheese.  I am usually not a blue cheese fan but this pairing made the blue cheese taste pretty good. 

Matching subtle flavors, explained Gold, is another good way to pair teas and cheeses.  By matching the subtle flavors, the taste of that subtle flavor becomes more pronounced in both the tea and cheese.  The class experimented in matching the delicate tastes of nuts.  The class tried a Dragon Well green tea with a gruyere cheese.  Both are known for having a hint of nuts.  This was my favorite of the sample pairings.  Gold identified other teas with hints of nuttiness such as a Keemun, Ceylon or Autumnal Darjeeling.  I’m now excited about pairing these teas at home with a slightly nutty cheese.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrea! This entry makes me think of the possibilities at our local cheese shop. Have you mentioned it to the owner? She's a marketing pro and this would be a great way to bring more tea options to the neighborhood. -Renee


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Sara and Andrea

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