2018 has been so much fun running our experimental Tea & Cheese paired evenings with the loveliest French cheese providore, Sarah Thuillet, of Emile & Solange. We shared 4 different menus during the past 6 months and concluded our final event for the year a fortnight ago.
With overwhelming positive feedback from our guests that tea & cheese work so beautifully together I am so pleased I approached Sarah a year ago to guage her interest in exploring this concept with me. I am fortunate that through my work as a tea specialist I have encountered other specialists that are equally as curious to see how the aromas and flavours of their products will mingle outside of the traditional and widely accepted pairings. This is exciting and provides great opportunities to elevate the tea experience and reposition it in different ways.
Our approach to these evenings was to bring a wide selection of tea types and cheese types (milk and texture) together through 5 pairings. We wanted to take our guests through a guided exploration of each pairing and always enjoyed the discussion about how these were experienced by the attendees.
We always encourage our attendees to take the experience home and experiment further with different teas and cheese. And on that note I will share my 3 favourite tea & cheese pairings and why I loved them so.
1. Matcha & washed rind cheese (cow's milk)
This is a bold pairing and despite it being a surprise to all the attendees it is commonly a pairing that people speak favourably of. We have paired matcha with 2 different washed-rind cheeses during our workshops and both were delicious. If I had to pick a favourite I would say the Époisses de Bourgogne. The intensity of the two combine to create a savoury course all on their own. The texture of the matcha and the soft pâté of the cheese are really delightful in the mouth as the matcha refreshes the palate to allow you to continue to enjoy the pairing. We would recommend selecting a seeded wheat cracker to enjoy this.
2. Yong de white buds (aged white tea) & fresh goat's cheese
This delicate and mellow pairing is a great introduction to tea & cheese pairing. The sweetness in the aged white tea is heightened when matched with goats cheese and the combination creates a long lingering honey finish. By adding a drop of honey to the cheese served on plain wafer cracker you take this pairing to the next level.
3. Jin Jun Mei & blue cheese
Blue cheese can be polarising. Whilst we love everyone to enjoy each pairing we also really believe in providing a new experience and one that may not always seem safe. We selected a mild mannered blue, Fourme d'ambert, as it is much less salty than others and has lovely nutty, mushroom flavours. It paired beautifully with the Jin Jun Mei, a black tea with accentuated honey notes.
We hope that this gives you some inspiration to start experimenting with tea & cheese pairing in your home.
And for those people that don't want to source the ingredients for yourselves we have put together a gorgeous tea, cheese and chocolate hamper for you to have a play with at home. These Tea & Cheese gourmet hampers can be purchased from Emile & Solange's online store.