Cheese and Tea Pairing with Quinteassential Tea

Wine or port might be the obvious drinks pairing for cheese but certain blends of tea can match particular types of cheese perfectly. Like wine, tea has many different bouquets, flavours and styles. Afternoon tea and scones with lashings of clotted cream is a match made in heaven and thick cream is only a step or two away from cheese. We’ve been working with the lovely people at Quinteassential to come up with a few simple pairing suggestions you might like to try at home – and even better, we have an exclusive cheese and tea pairing kit to give away in this month’s competition.

Although tea-growing regions of the world are not typically cheese-producing or even cheese-consuming regions, good artisan cheese and Quinteassential teas do have a lot in common. Both are influenced by the regions they are grown or produced and the end results depend on the amount of processing they have had to go through.

Like red wine and port, teas contain tannins which exist in grapes and tea leaves, producing that complex, tart, astringent taste and dark amber, rusty colour. Not all teas are tannin-rich; white and green teas contain very little tannins, while Oolongs are in the middle, and black teas have the most. “All of the same rules of thumb come into play,” says Quintessential founder Bernadine. “Tannins balance richness or sweetness, salt balances sweetness etc.”

How to create your own cheese and tea pairings

Choose about 3-5 types of cheeses with different textures (hard, semi-hard, creamy, soft), vary the type of milk it is from (sheep, cow and goat) and choose cheeses from different regions (both international cheese and locally made). Have some bread and fruit such as grapes and peaches on hand as palate cleansers in between tastings.

We recommend that you serve your cheeses at room temperature and make sure that teas aren’t steeped for too long or they may become bitter. Also, start with the milder, lighter teas and cheeses first, and finish with the more intense varieties.

Soft, mild, creamy cheeses such as mild Delamere Goat’s Cheese or young Camembert pair well with bright and crisp black teas such as our Signature Breakfast made with a milk infused Oolong. You could also try a more astringent fresh green tea.

Salty cheeses like Joseph Heler Cheshire pair well with sweet and floral teas, like Garden of Eden. With a creamy blue veined cheese such as ICA Supreme Champion Cropwell Bishop Stilton or Claire Burt’s lovely Burt’s Blue try White Elixir. Strong Goat’s cheese or Cheddar should stand up well alongside some aromaticImperial Earl Grey which again is made with the rare and beautiful Oolong. Its ‘milky’ notes and perfumed Italian bergamot balances the dairy fat and the slight sweetness works well against salty cheese. A sweet, fruity black tea such as Green Flamingo should also work well to balance any saltiness.

Nutty cheeses such as Gruyere or Spanish Manchego are an obvious match for more full-flavoured teas and those with obvious tannins. Try Cleanse, an invigorating combination of cinnamon, ginger, dates, malt grains, cacao beans and pepper. This blend is also recommended after a heavy meal – or lots of cheese.

Win your own cheese and tea matching kit with Quinteassential Tea and the International Cheese Awards

We’re delighted to be able to offer one lucky winner the chance to try cheese and tea pairing at home with this month’s Twitter competition. Quinteassential Tea have kindly donated bags of three of their teas - Garden of Eden, White Elixir and Signature Breakfast – and we’ve paired them with three of Cheshire’s finest – Joseph Heler Cheshire, Burt’s Blue and Delamere Goat’s Cheese.

To be in with a chance of winning, keep an eye on the International Cheese Awards Twitter feed (@icheeseawards) and simply retweet the competition tweet when it’s announced later this week. Make sure you’re following both us and @QuinTEAssential so that we can contact you if you win to arrange delivery.

Good luck, and happy cheese and tea matching!