Holiday entertaining. Tea and food pairings to wow your guests
With the holiday season officially in full swing, I look forward to holiday parties! I will attend an Alice in Wonderland themed party in December and I hope there will be plenty of tea (insert heart eyes emoji here - I promised my friend The Lazy Literatus that I wouldn’t use emojis in blog posts, ever!). I will very likely host some holiday dinner parties too and I’m making a point of introducing everybody to the magic of tea and food pairings. If you, like me, want tea to be the star of your holiday celebrations, I have tried and tested some combinations that will sweep everyone off their feet, from appetizer to dessert.
When your guests arrive, welcome them with a tea-infused craft cocktail to set the tone for the evening (or afternoon, if you are hosting brunch). You could go for a fruity and vibrant hibiscus tea and quince cocktail or for a bolder statement, like an Italian Negroni infused with jasmine green tea or shou (ripe) puer. They’re gonna love you.
Tea & Appetizers
You know what they say, the best time to enjoy oysters on the half shell (aka raw oysters) are the winter months. I’m an oyster fanatic (I take tasting notes like I do for tea, yes, I’m crazy!), so I really cannot miss the opportunity to serve them to a dinner party alongside cold-brewed green teas (served chilled). The ultimate indulgence.
If oysters are not “your cup of tea”, you cannot go wrong with a beautiful cheese or charcuterie board (or a mix of both). Some of my favorite combinations: matcha + prosciutto di Parma and white tea from Fujian + burrata cheese. Serve cheese and charcuterie at room temperature to best enjoy their flavor and aroma and let the tea cool slightly to take your pairing experience to the next level.
Tea & Main Course
This was the pairing I served for Thanksgiving but I plan to serve it again because it worked so beautifully. I paired roasted chicken (it’s not the famed “engagement chicken” but you can always try!) marinated in olive oil, white wine and fresh oregano stuffed with Greek feta cheese, green olives and sun-dried tomatoes with a 2006 He Kai Shan raw (sheng) puerh. At first, I was hesitant because of the many flavor notes and condiments of the chicken. My instinct suggested that (being a substantial dish) it would benefit from the palate cleansing properties of a puerh but without the extra bold notes of a ripe puerh. My instinct was right. This is one of the most pleasant savory tea and food pairings ever.
Tea & Dessert
There’s always room for dessert, no matter what, especially if Yogurt Tart 2.0 is on the menu. I really can’t rave enough about this tart, it’s easy to make (foolproof, dare I say), it’s complex in flavor thanks to the wonderful spices in the crust (vanilla bean, orange zest and cardamom) and the tangy yogurt filling and topping (think dates, pomegranate arils and a generous swirl of raw honey). Forget about heavy, overly sweet pies. This is the dessert your tea loving palate needs. Right now. It has become my absolute favorite and guess what it pairs well with? Indonesian rolled black tea, sweet and aromatic, with notes of wild flowers, dried figs and a hint of orange blossom water and a sweet, aromatic palate with notes of dried herbs. I have a feeling Fujian black teas would be a great match too!
What are your favorite tea and food pairings for the holiday season? Let me know in the comments down below.