Tea and charcuterie
With World Tea Expo coming to a close, I’m a little sad that I I was not able to attend. To beat the blues, I turned to tea and food (so predictable, right?!) to cheer me up and ended up experimenting with some pairings I had never tried before.
Drumroll, please...Let me introduce you to salumi, aka the cured meats of Italy. I have three tea and salumi pairings for you!
Artisanal charcuterie is extremely popular right now. Italy (like France and Spain) is famous for the great variety of its delicious cured meats. Growing up in Italy, they were an everyday staple. Now I find myself craving some from time to time. Here in San Francisco, we are lucky enough to have a small artisanal butcher right here in our neighborhood. They make all of their charcuterie in house (with the exception of prosciutto). I have successfully paired tea and cheese before, so why not giving tea and charcuterie a shot?
For a successful tea and food pairing, you want to consider flavor notes, temperature and texture. You can pair by similarity or by contrast. Take a sip of tea, a bite of charcuterie and a sip of tea. If one flavor cancels or overpowers the other or if both flavors taste strange together, then the pairing is not working. A pairing that works is like a symphony in your mouth, all the flavors combine in a harmonious way. Ideally, your charcuterie should be thinly sliced (paper-thin), which helps it melt in your mouth with the warmth of the tea.
Darjeeling Steinthal (2nd flush - 2016) + bresaola
Bresaola is lean cured beef from the Valtellina valley, in northern Italy, very close to my home town. It is served thinly sliced, either on its own or seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice. It’s mildly salty and has a slightly floral aroma and a distinctive jerky-like beef flavor. It works really well with the nutty and slightly fruity notes of the 2nd flush Darjeeling Steinthal.
Hojicha + lonza
Lonza, cured pork loin with honey and sage, has more fat than bresaola, it’s sweet and bold and aromatic. It needs a tea that can hold its ground "against" it. Hojicha, our beloved heavily roasted Japanese green tea, with its deep flavor notes of fire-roasted chestnuts, caramel and lingering sweetness turned out to be a great match!
Matcha + prosciutto di Parma
Last but not least, the king of Italian salumi, prosciutto di Parma. Matcha, with its grassy and umami notes, is wonderful with salty, slightly fatty prosciutto. Throw in there some ripe Mission figs or dried figs and never look back ;-)
Have you tried pairing charcuterie with tea? What are your favorite combinations? Let me know in the comments down below!