News outlets are now discovering something tea enthusiasts have long known — tea pairings developed by those who truly understand flavor and cuisine are worth paying attention to.
The latest to jump on the trend was NPR’s The Salt blog with their July 21 article: “Tea Sommeliers Are the Hot New Thing in Food Pairing.” The article included sources like Aurelie Bessiere of Palais des Thes, Jeff Ruiz of Stera and Christopher Day of Eleven Madison Park.
Attendees of World Tea Expo have been lucky enough to have a jump start on the idea of tea pairings guided by a skilled tea sommelier. This past spring, Cynthia Gold, tea sommelier at Boston’s L’Espalier, presented “The Art of Food and Beverage Pairing” while Robert Wemischner presented “Marriages Made in Tea and Dessert Heaven.” Gold has been a front runner in the field, launching one of the first “tea cuisine” restaurants in the U.S. back in 1997 and serving as a tea sommelier for the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers from 2004 to 2011. Five years ago she was already teaching World Tea Expo audiences about the pairing of tea and cheese.
What tips did The Salt offer to those interested in tea pairings? The goal is “unlocking new flavors in your food by pairing it with tea.” They recommended playing on the fruity and honey notes of Taiwanese oolongs with sheeps’ milk cheese, enhancing the flowery taste of a Bao Zhong with a buttery madeleine cookie, and capitalizing on the umami of a Japanese sencha by balancing with a sweet melted chocolate.