Teas ‘n Cheese

Farmer’s Market season is gearing back up, plants are sprouting, trees are budding, and my palate is springing back to life as well. So thoughts of loose leaf tea and food pairings are once again helping to drive my weekend splurges. This month, we’re on to cheese. I love cheese, unfortunately. I’m a total sucker for artisanal cheeses, and even the basic cheeses are a weakness for me – some of the things I have most difficulty locking out of my mind when working to shed some pounds are pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches!

We tend to think first of pairing cheese in the traditional sense with wine or beer, but it is such an important part of everyday meals in many Western cultures, that more often than not, cheese is likely to be consumed at meals without alcohol. A general rule of thumb that clearly came out of my trials was that a delicate cheese should not be paired with a bold tea, or one that’s highly tannic. The same goes for sharp cheeses – stay away from the tannins. Another unexpected generalization was that our medium-bodied Jasmine Tea and silky-light Monkey Picked White, both naturally slightly sweet teas, paired well with most any cheese.

The Tea Spot Loose Leaf Teas
The Tea Spot Loose Leaf Teas

So many Loose Leaf Teas to pair with food!

Swiss-style cheeses like Gruyere and Emmenthal went very nicely with our classic organic black tea, Blue Mountain Nilgiri, as well as the bold Rooibos herbal tea, Red Rocks.

The more delicate creamy cheeses are fantastic with the light and silky Meditative Mind, if they’re not herbed; otherwise, serve them with Monkey Picked White. If you’re looking for the perfect black tea to pair these with, steep up a pot of New Moon Darjeeling, also light-bodied, and well balanced.

Cheddar’s best friend is without a doubt, our creamy medium-bold black tea, Earl Grey.

Blue Cheese (my favorite is the organic brand of Roquefort, Papillon) was rounded out very nicely by Bolder Breakfast loose black tea, the medium bodied Mate Limon Chai, and worked sublimely well with the mellow Monkey Picked White. Blue cheeses are traditionally served with sweet or dessert wines, and each of these teas brings a natural sweetness to the pairing. Maybe because it’s such a favorite cheese of mine, I found that it paired with more teas as well – floral notes, present in Earl of Grey and Meditative mind, blended nicely with the pungent blue cheeses, and organic Darjeeling, with its floral top notes, also worked well.

Smoked Cheeses we enjoyed most with the fruity notes of Mango Tango and Boulder Blues. These worked especially well iced, alongside a smoked gouda, bacon and granny smith apples Panini sandwich!

Goat cheeses we can source locally here in Colorado, so we had three to try, and decided that the winning pairings were the mellow Monkey Picked White, the roasty medium-bodied Thin Mint Green, and Bolder Breakfast for a strong black tea pairing.

Finally (can you believe we tasted these in two days?!) we found that the creamy Camembert and Brie cheeses were fabulous with the silky Earl of Grey and for medium-bodied greens – Green Twisted Spears, Jasmine Petals, and Thin Mint Green.

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