A Lunchtime Tea Pairing Guide That Is Trending and Why
Jan 12, 2023
Tea and lunchtime have a storied history throughout India, the UK, and now the rest of the world. In a historical setting, tea is more than just a beverage to wash a meal down. The preparation, company, and food are as important as the drink itself, and many cultures revere tea as a cultural icon and a deep part of edible heritage.
Historically, the women in India prepared tea as a ritual as a token of hospitality to family, friends, and guests. Tea culture and lunchtime are where the community gossip is traded, love is shown to friends, and stress from life melts away.
In the UK, teatime and lunch are an institution where all time and life obligations take pause to enjoy a bold cup of black tea with a meal that is not quite lunch or dinner but something distinctly in between.
No matter where you are, pairing your tea with lunch can elevate your eating experience. In addition, teas have functional qualities that can help melt away mid-day stress, bolster your energy for the rest of the day, and also help to digest a good meal. So whether a hot cup accompanies the main meal or the dessert course or both, tea is always a welcome lunch companion.
Teatime also involves food from miniature snacks to full meals, where a cup of tea is a traditional way to chase away sleepiness, help the diner’s digest, and create a relaxing ambiance. An afternoon lunch might be themed with bite-sized sandwiches, as in the English tradition or more savory fare like samosas in India.
What Teas Pair Best With Lunchtime
The essential tea should be prepared to match the flavors, aromas, and mood of the setting and we will break down the best teas to pair with each time of teatime below.
Green tea is the chosen hot cup that accompanies every lunchtime in China. All good lunchtime gossip is traded over a hot cup of tea like a good Darjeeling Organic Green tea that boasts a light vegetal taste that doesn’t overpower the main course. Its gentle flavor profile and subtle notes compliment lighter fare that doesn’t compete with the palette. Dishes that feature steamed seafood, rice, or chicken are great companions to a green tea.
Floral teas collaborate well with a traditional English tea time spread. Miniature sandwiches, scones, and delicate pastries pair perfectly with a delicate botanical tea that has a complex aroma of floral notes such as Lavender Valley. This blend combines a base of lavender with rose and white peony to create a romantic bouquet in a teacup.
Herbal teas that feature earth tones pair well with spiced dishes like stews, curries, and stir-fries. These teas are great at neutralizing oil-heavy dishes and complement fried and flavorful dishes. Herbaceous teas often have helpful digestive qualities that can aid digestion making lunch a well-balanced and harmonious experience.
Black teas have been the English standard where lunch is less about mid-day and more about the bridging the time between lunch and dinner. They offer the perfect caffeinated kick to pair with red meat-based dishes or decadent desserts. A general rule of thumb is that if it pairs well with red wine, it will also suit robust black teas, like a high-quality English Breakfast blend. This is because the tannins sometimes create malty roasted flavors that can co-exist with equally bold lunchtime dishes.
Spiced teas like a good Chai Adda are the go-to lunches that feature bold cheeses like a savory brie galette or a fried samosa with complimentary spices. It also makes an ideal candidate for greeting the dessert course. Adding a steamed milk to a chai tea and pairing it with a Madeline cookie or rusk cake will have you wondering why you didn’t start with the sweetest course first!