Tea and Food Pairing – Cheese

Were you intrigued by the title?  Did you think it a rather strange pairing or something you already embrace?

For this series of tea and food pairing ideas and suggestions, I thought I would start with cheeses.  I am all for prolonging conversations and connections and a cheese board helps that.  Helpful, I think, for those who may not want to have alcohol and those open to new tasting combinations.

Abundantly placed on your cheeseboard will include; nuts, grapes, crunchy sweet apples, pears, dried fruits, honey and of course really good crusty bread and biscuits.  You may serve goat’s cheese, sheep and/or cows’. Or camel’s?

The younger and softer the cheese, especially if its goat or sheep, it’s light and quite citric.  There are the full flavoured ones too.  Pair the new cheese with green tea or Gunpowder green tea and slightly older cheeses with Sencha (a steamed green tea).  Green teas have a vegetal undertone and these match the grassy notes of the cheese.

Cheeses that are encircled in rind are less acidic and certainly more pungent than their youngsters described above.  You are more likely to partner these with breads and biscuits and you want a tea that will not play second fiddle.

Depending on how mature your rind cheese is, a dark oolong tea would be a good companion.  This tea can take brewing 2/3 times, so the pairing would have a subtle change by the time you get to the 3rd infusion.  The more flavourful the cheese, you can pair with black teas as well.  Instead of a breakfast or afternoon tea blend, try Yunnan Gold, Keemun (from China) or a Lapsang Souchong (smoked tea)

Blue cheese has fruity and spicy highlights and  can quite easily be partnered with flavoured teas.  Raid your tea cupboard for those fruit laden, herbal and aromatic infusions. They chum up with the creaminess fatty and ever so slight metallic taste of blue cheese.

Umami …ness, sweet, sour and salty nesses of hard cheeses are irresistible.  A nibble turns into a whole hunk of cheese gone, goodness know how….  The flavour profiles are numerous and I find that a puerh (aged tea) stands up to and embraces it so well.  Like some oolong teas, the puerh can be brewed multiple times and each time the flavours are fabulous.

Then there are ekte gjetost made with whey left over from the cheese-making. They are sweet, roasted caramel-flavoured cut into think thin slithers and paired with rye bread and paired with a strong black tea.

For pairing desserts and puddings there are further ideas on how these are matched to teas on this website