In the first post in this series I described our discussion of the trigeminal system and how teas and foods fit into the temperature response scheme of this system.
After we sampled the four teas,* we tasted them with food. Centerplate, the catering company at the Convention Center, provided three different kinds of scones: blueberry, raisin, and chocolate; with three different preserves from Bonne Maman: blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry.
To everyone's delight, the blueberry scones with blueberry jam brought out the refreshingly grassy qualities of the green tea. By contrast the flavors of the other teas were destroyed by this combination.
Instead, the first flush Darjeeling sang harmoniously with the raisin scones and the strawberry jam, while the two black teas (Halmari Assam and Black Magnolia) were even more delicious when paired with the chocolate scones with raspberry jam.
|A photo taken before we tasted the scones, but you can get an idea of the set-up.|
Photo by Jo from Tea Blending Sisters (http://www.teablendingsisters.com)
Whereupon I suggested cleaning out the bad flavors with good ones, by pairing the black teas with the chocolate wafers.
So good indeed! especially when scooping up some raspberry jam with the wafer, taking a bite, and then sipping the tea. This process brought out the maltiness and coffee-like qualities of the Assam (confession time: a coffee malted milkshake/frappe with chocolate syrup is one of my all time favorites), while the Black Magnolia accentuated the deliciously tart qualities of the chocolate and raspberries.
The reasons for these reactions: blueberries activate the same cool/cold receptors on the trigeminal nerve in mouth and nose as does the green tea; Darjeelings, like oolongs, activate the warm receptors, as do strawberries and raisins; while the "hot" receptors are activated by dark chocolate, raspberries, and black teas. When you try to activate the hot and the cold receptors simultaneously by pairing green tea with chocolate, the clash is inevitable.
The take-home lesson of this phase of the workshop was: not all scones go with all teas. The pretty three-tiered curates, replete with scones and jams and bonbons, does a disservice to both tea and food. You will inevitably encounter a tea/food combination that makes one or the other taste dreadful.
Better to have some way to serve teas and foods so that they pair successfully.
After some discussion we came to the conclusion that a tapas tea bar with suggestions for pairing would be the answer.
Oh, and we didn't stop there—more about pairing and menu building in my next post!
* Here are the teas again:
From Yatra Tea (https://www.yatrateacompany.com):
FATIKCHERRA ESTATE, TRIPURA, AUTUMN FLUSH 2017
HARVEST MONTH: NOVEMBER 2017
Clean liquor, with a savory aroma of cooked greens, and robust notes of vegetable broth.
Fatikcherra was the first estate in Tripura to produce organic tea in 1998. The estate itself is surrounded by dense forests of tropical trees, including teak, sal, and bamboo. The area experiences heavy rainfall, especially between June and September (the Monsoon season).
The tea industry in this eastern state of India was started by the people of East Bengal. Tripura is the 5th largest tea producing state in India, after Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu & Kerala.
GOOMTEE ESTATE, DARJEELING, FIRST FLUSH 2017
HARVEST MONTH: APRIL 2017
Golden liquor, flowery fragrance, and crisp, well-rounded taste.
Goomtee is as iconic a Darjeeling estate as they come, its tryst with tea dating back to 1899. Hilly slopes at altitudes ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 ft. are abundant with teas of the China variety. Blessed with moderately cool temperature and adequate rainfall, Goomtee consistently produces Darjeeling tea of the highest quality.
HALMARI ESTATE, ASSAM, SECOND FLUSH 2017
HARVEST MONTH: JULY 2017
Bright ruby liquor, notes of caramel, delicious malty flavor.
Located in the Moran Belt on the rich, fertile plains of Upper Assam, above the Brahmaputra river, Halmari's consistent commitment to producing quality Assam teas has rendered it one of the best tea estates in the world. By their own admission, production of top quality tea didn't commence until the 1980s. Since then, Halmari has rightly earned the title of top producer in Assam.
The limited production GTGFOP1 grade tea is an award winning, pure, Orthodox tea with an abundance of chunky, golden tips. An iconic tea with global appeal!
and the tea from The Great Mississippi Tea Company:
BLACK MAGNOLIA, THE GREAT MISSISSIPPI TEA COMPANY
Jason says: " “Black Magnolia” is a unique black tea produced using a heated oxidation process that adds a Maillard Browning step similar to pan firing an Oolong."