Say tahtah to cucumber sandwiches on crustless breads: Instead, why not think tea paired with fruit or cheese: Imagine a voluptuous, bright orange persimmon or ripe purple plum paired with the rich full mouth feel of an aged pu-erh or slightly astringent tie-guan yin, a deep green oolong with a lingering, complex aftertaste.
Or think about tea with cheese: Why not sip a sweet spring green dragonwell while nibbling on a tangy Manchego sheep cheese from Spain.
Consider how the fresh savory taste of dragonwell brings out the creamy tang of Manchego.
Or think about piquant, fluffy, just about runny /ripe room temperature Humboldt Fog goat cheese (left)from the rocky Pacific Coast paired with the minerality of rock oolong from the Wuyi Mountains. Or try a full-bodied pu-erh with a ripe brie. Consider how the brie becomes richer when paired with the velvety (and non-astringent) pu-erh.
Why not have your own tea/cheese/fruit party? Use suggestions above or make your own.
A word on persimmons: To avoid the pucker mouth of an unripe persimmon, make sure they are almost bletted, or past ripeness just before rotten. Bletting increases sugar and reduces tannins, (cause of cotton mouth feel). The word comes from poire blette, French for overripe pear.
And for those who asked at the Tea Festival – or for a delicious buzz – try Cynthia Gold’s Southern Earl Gray recipe . Cynthia Gold is a tea sommelier in Boston and the author of Culinary Tea.
·Southern Earl Grey;
1/2 ounce Earl Grey infused Bourbon
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon Oolong and ginger syrup
dash of Orange Bitters
Add first four ingredients to a champagne flute. Fill with Prosecco or your favorite champagne. Optionally garnish with a curl of orange zest.
1 liter Makers Mark Bourbon
1/4 cup of Earl Grey tea leaves
Place 1 liter of bourbon in non-reactive container. Add tea leaves, Taste periodically until desired strength is achieved. Probably around 2 hours. Strain multiple times through cheesecloth or coffee filters until completely clear. Store at room temperature or chilled.
Oolong Tea and Ginger Simple Syrup
2 cups white sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1 wedge lemon or orange
3 tablespoons Oolong tea leaves
Place sugar and water into a saucepan. Stir sugar up from the bottom, squeeze in citrus and add ginger. Place over medium-high flame and bring to a boil. Turn down to low and let simmer until a clear thick syrup is formed, about 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add tea leaves and let sit until cool. May be left overnight at this stage. Strain.