Pairing black tea should be top of your list if you want to enjoy good food. Realize that you’re not just dealing with any other tea here. Truth be told, if all the tea from the Camella Sinensis shrub were screen actors, black tea would be the star of the show — a global blockbuster movie, to be exact.
Indeed, black tea’s worldwide popularity is unquestionable. Of the over 3 billion cups of tea consumed daily, the majority is black tea, not green tea or oolong. So, while knowing oolong tea pairings is undoubtedly a plus, you’d do yourself a huge favor if you explored the best black tea and food combination.
In this post, we’ll do just that. We’ll spill the beans on the secrets of black tea pairings so you’ll know precisely what foods get enhanced with the most oxidized tea and vice versa — and not be lost in a vicious cycle of endless experimentation. Read on.
From the onset, know that black tea is the most oxidized of all the true tea types. When you bear that in mind, you’ll go a long way in choosing the right food to pair with black. As that means, black tea:
- has a stronger, more robust flavor than most
- has more caffeine than the rest
As it has a strong and distinct flavor, black tea generally goes well with hearty meals (e.g., spicy foods and pasta or scrambled eggs and sausages) but not with lighter meals that can easily lose their taste to black.
IMPORTANT: Take note that not all black teas are created equal. There are many ways you can have different varieties of black depending on the processing.
Smoked black tea gets heated, usually using coniferous wood along the leaves to dry faster, while fruity black combines the astringency of black tea with the zesty sweetness of fruits.
The paired food should match the particulars of a black tea, the drink’s signature aroma and flavor.
For one, fruity black teas blend well with sweet dishes that leave a sweet aftertaste (e.g., sweet desserts, pastries), while earthy, malty black teas complement meats with strong flavors (e.g., red meat, blackened meat, jerk chicken).
If you’re still confused about black tea pairings, fret not. Below are three types of black tea you’ll likely bump into and foods they go along seamlessly with.
Black Tea Pairing Samples: The Best Food Combo
Indeed, no one is stopping you from pairing black tea with whatever food you think is best. And you should go for it. A little experimentation can lead you to greater discovery.
But you can’t beat the black tea/food combo below when it comes to satisfying your precious palate. Trying them out for yourself should be a bygone conclusion.
Smoky Black Tea
Smoky black tea is spot on if you want your tea strong. Though each variety will have different degrees of smokiness, these teas are heated using smoke from coniferous wood (e.g., pine trees) while being dried.
Having the strongest flavor, smoky black tea (e.g., Lapsang Souchong) goes well with dark meats. And as it won’t be overpowered by strong aroma and flavors, this black tea complements greatly the following:
- Grilled red meat
- Blue cheese
- Dark chocolate
- Beef steak with mushrooms
On the other side of the fence, pairing a smoky black tea with lighter foods may not be a good idea. You’re most likely to lose the taste of those foods to the intense flavor of this black tea.
Earthy Black Tea
Earthy black tea reminds you of the soil, harboring a mushroom taste and a crispy feel more often than not. These teas are usually the product of areas of high rainfall.
With its strong taste (but not as intense as smoky black tea), earthy black tea can hold its own against strong-flavored foods. This nootropic drink goes well with:
- Hearty stews
- Blackened meat/vegetables
- Mashed potatoes with gravy
- Red meat
- Jerk chicken
Since earthy black teas aren’t naturally sweet-tasting, pairing them with sweet desserts may not be a good idea. Instead, you’d do well if you served them with rich foods that lack sweetness.
Fruity Black Tea
Now, if you’re wondering about black teas that go well with sweet desserts, you should grab fruity black teas like there’s no tomorrow. These authentic flavors can be made with real fruits and carry a certain sweetness.
You can pair fruity black with foods that leave a strong aftertaste. This tea's sweet, lingering sensation ensures a certain amount of sweetness sticks to your palate even after you consume your food.
Thus, fruity black is best paired with:
- Indian sweet desserts
- Fruit cakes
- Fruits (e.g., mangoes, peaches).
- Jam-filled cookies
Indeed, fruity black serves as a great counterbalance to sweet desserts. If made with flour and sugar, fruity black tea can work magic. Plus, you’ll never go wrong with pairing the drink with fresh, sweet fruits.
WARNING: It’s best not to pair fruity black teas with strong foods. The fruity nootropic mixture is bound to be overwhelmed.
Again, you’re welcome to experiment with different food pairings with black tea. But knowing the rules is best before you try to go out of their bounds. And that’s a black tea pairing secret worth keeping. To greater culinary adventures.
Black Tea FAQS
Does black tea last long?
Generally, black tea lasts longer than green tea and other tea types. Oxidizing black tea means it can last as long as 2 to 3 years, making the leaves ideal for shipping worldwide for everyone’s consumption.
Does black tea have more antioxidants than green tea?