Green Tea Pairing with Cheese
Would you like to create “WOW” moments in your social gatherings by pairing food with Green Tea?
Yes, that’s right—I didn’t say wine. This article is about “pairing food with Green Tea.”
“Pairing with wine” brings up an image of a sparkly wine glass with fun, social time with friends and family. But this was not the case until recently: “Forty years ago, fine wine was synonymous with expensive Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne, and thus in the eyes of many Americans it was expensive, anti-populist, and for most, intangible,” according to eater.com. As for Green Tea, Matcha has become prevalent worldwide during the last several years due to its health values. Yet it seems Green Tea is still “intangible” or “misunderstood” in the American market. I hope this series of “pairing with Green Tea” will provide an informative, inspiring guide for how to enjoy a variety of Green Teas in our modern lifestyle including social settings.
Pairing with Cheese
In this article, we are pairing Green Tea with Cheese. In our food culture, pairing with Cheese has a strong affiliation with wine. Pairing Green Tea with Cheese makes sense. Here’s why.
What do wine and Green Tea have in common?
Green Tea is a generic term for “unfermented tea made with Camellia Sinensis.” Just as “an alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice” is called wine.
It is reasonable to parallel Green Tea with wine. Like wine, “Green Tea” includes many varieties, each of which offers characteristic flavor, color, and shapes (if it’s loose leaf teas), depending on
- production areas,
- growing environment,
- production methods,
- types of processing, and even
- time of harvest.
The pairing afternoon
Just two days ago, the opportunity to do this experiment fell onto us. We were on the road for an event, and the afternoon event got cancelled. All of a sudden, we didn’t have anything to do for the whole afternoon. We decided to take advantage of the afternoon to find great matches between Green Tea and Cheese. Excited with this mini adventure, we went to BELLA, THE locals’ “go to” store, when it comes to the best selection of great cheese and great wine. But we decided to substitute Green Tea for wine.
With good advice from Lynn, the store manager, we picked 8 different kinds of cheese—French Brie, Emmental, Havarti, “Marco Polo” (award winning cheese handmade at the Pike Place Market in Seattle), Apple Smoked Gouda, Blue Cheese, Smoked Blue Cheese, and Smoked Goat Cheese.
For crackers, Lynn recommended Milton’s Crispy Sea Salt Crackers, which turned out to be a great choice—they added a great crisp texture with a slightly buttery and toasty taste to balance out but not overpower any intensity level of cheese flavor.
We went back to our hotel room and spread the pretty cheese packages over the table.
I always take Green Tea with me whenever I go on the road. My day doesn’t start right without a good cup of Green Tea. I had Uji Matcha with me that day, so I made two glasses of Iced Uji Matcha. (I put powder in water bottle with water and shook well. And then poured it over ice in a couple of glass cups. Always use good water to make a good cup of tea.) And then we took a few slices from each piece.
We loved every bite of the beautiful harmony that Green Tea and Cheese created. For the varieties of tea that I didn’t have with me, I had to use my imagination. So, we did it again after we got back home from the trip. And we were even more fascinated by the amazing variety of beautiful flavors when “matched” perfectly. They tasted so good—it was more than “complementing each other.” They were almost magical and completely satisfactory. We are not really against alcohol drinks; Infact, we love wine! However, the flavors were so good and this is what came out from our mouth: “When you can enjoy such wonderful, sophisticated flavors, who needs booze!?” This may be an overstatement, but you don’t have to quit drinking wine to enjoy new flavor matches. I highly recommend you try ‘pairing Green Tea with Cheese.’ I believe you will be pleasantly surprised by the new flavor combo.
How to prepare for your “Green Tea and Cheese pairing”
- Purchase 3 or more varieties of Green Tea, cheese, and good crackers—we recommend plain water crackers, such as Milton’s Crispy Sea Salt Crackers—avoid crackers which have strong flavors of their own. Use the “Green Tea and Cheese pairing chart” at the bottom of this page as a reference to decide which kinds you would like to pair.
- Display unwrapped Cheese on your favorite plate or cheese board so your guests can study and admire the packaging. Have a knife to slice cheese with ready.
- Gather up the following on the table:
- Green Tea of your choice
- good water
- a pair of scissors to open tea packages
- tea cups (the number of Green Teas times 2)—preferably inside color is white or transparent to be able to enjoy the color differences
- 1 tsp. size measuring spoon
- ½ tsp. size measuring spoon
- hot water (180-190F) to make enough cups (air pot or electric water dispenser is handy)
- tea strainers (if you have only one, no problem—I’ll show you how to do with one without hassle of going back and force from kitchen sink to wash it.)
- Napkins or tea towels—just in case
- a container to discard water after rinsing tasting cups
- Have your guests unwrap cheese and slice them while you prepare tea. They can enjoy the different smells, textures, and appearances.
- Prepare Green Teas:
- Put a rounded 1 tsp. loose tea leaf per 8 oz or ½ tsp. tea powder per 8 oz into a cup. You can use a rounded ½tsp. loose leaf tea and use 4 oz water, or ¼ tsp. tea powder with 4 oz water, if you would like to “stretch” the hot water you have.
- After you put loose tea leaf and powder in cups, add hot water to each cup.
- Let the tea leaf steep 1-2 minutes.
- Put a tea strainer over a fresh cup.
- When teas are steeped, pour steeped tea over the strainer into the fresh cup. If you are using the same strainer, do this step with the milder tea first, teas listed higher in the “pairing chart” in order to avoid mixing flavors.
- Dump steeped tea leaves into the cup used to steep. Use a spoon to remove the leaves if necessary.
- Repeat for all the loose-leaf teas.
Time to enjoy
- Start with the pair of mildest flavors, or the teas listed higher in the chart. To share tea with your guests, pour the tea to a cup or glass. Stir powdered tea just before pouring it into another cup.
- Before pouring the next tea to cup, rinse the cup by adding a small amount of clean water and swish the cup and dump the water in a container.
- For tasting, I recommend a ceramic or glass cup, since cups made with paper or plastic have a distinctive smell and smell affects flavors.
- Tea is enjoyable even after cooled off. Share your thoughts with your guests and find each person’s favorite!
Food preference and demands are more diverse than ever. Borders dividing foods by culture and regions are disappearing. With creativity and strong desire for healthier and tastier foods, I believe Green Tea is becoming an honored and sought-after beverage. Choose the right Green Tea with the right food. Do not “kill” the characters of the tea with sugar and cream—Choose the right green tea for the right time, and “savor” the flavor and blissful moment that the Green Tea of your choice has brought to you.
I hope, sooner than later, specific names of Green Tea will become more familiar as Merlot and Chardonnay have become commonly known as varieties of wine.