Tea and Food Pairings for Every Course on the Menu

Nick Mirev
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    Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world after water. That is why, it is no wonder that there are many tea and food pairings. Different tea varieties pair with different types of food. It is common for restaurants to offer special combinations of tea pairings in their regular or seasonal menus. Furthermore, some venues even have an afternoon tea menu which usually combines the drink with some light snack or a dessert. Restaurants can benefit from the popularity of this beverage and increase customer satisfaction by introducing luxurious and specialty tea selections to their menus. This will not only increase the average order value but will also attract tea lovers to the venue.

    Key takeaway: Tea pairs well with a variety of dishes in a full-course meal. Commonly, tea is consumed with breakfast food and desserts. Restaurants can benefit from offering high-grade teas that attract guests looking for drinks.

    Breakfast Tea and Food Combinations

    Most people consider tea as an afternoon or morning drink. That is why, a lot of tea pairings are with breakfast food. Some popular options include:

    • Scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, and English breakfast tea. A classic British breakfast experience;
    • Earl Grey tea, scones, and croissants with jam and cream;
    • Green tea, poached eggs, and avocado toast. A healthy option for a fresh morning;
    • Citrus tea and cream cheese toast with smoked salmon;
    • Rooibos tea and pancakes with maple syrup;

    If you’re planning to create a special breakfast and brunch menu the combinations above can be a guide. Naturally, each combination depends on the individual taste of the guests. Some of them might be caffeine enthusiasts looking for a luxurious specialty coffee. Others might like cold brew coffee alternatives like iced matcha tea.

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    Tea Pairings with Appetizers

    Although few people associate tea with appetizers, there are many options for excellent tea and food pairings. The key thing to remember is that the drink should complement the dish and not overwhelm it. Allow us to share a couple of examples of great tea and food pairings a restaurant can include in its regular or seasonal menu:

    • Sencha green tea with sashimi or sushi. Tea is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and it’s no wonder that it pairs well with Japanese cuisine;
    • White tea with ceviche or shrimp cocktail. White tea is an ideal pairing for seafood dishes;
    • Chamomile tea with creamy and moldy cheeses. This herbal tea’s light and fresh taste will pair excellently with a cheese board;
    • Jasmine tea with vegetable dumplings. The sweet floral notes of Jasmine tea are a fresh compliment to vegetable appetizers;
    • Earl Grey tea with smoked salmon bruschettas. Earl Grey tea is yet another excellent seafood pairing drink.

    Tea Pairings with Main Courses

    A well-plated main course dish with a cup of hot tea on the side is a combination many choose. Tea and food pairings don’t limit to just breakfast and appetizers. Allow us to share a few ideas on how waiters can upsell your guests by offering them tea options to complement their main dish.

    1. Earl Grey tea with grilled steak or other roasted meats. This full-bodied black tea goes well with food that is rich in flavors such as beef steak or lamb chops;
    2. Creamy pasta with Chamomile tea. The herbal notes complement the creamy texture of the pasta. Another good Chamomile tea and food pairing is with risotto;
    3. Chai tea with Indian food. Tea is a big part of Indian culture. Therefore, Masala chai is one of the preferred pairings for dishes such as biryani or chicken tikka masala;
    4. Thai food and Jasmine tea. The floral notes of this tea unlock additional flavors of the light and aromatic Thai dishes;
    5. Strong black tea and large hearty dishes. Shepherd's pie is a good example. A dish strong in body and flavors will pair well with a cup of hot black tea;
    6. Darjeeling tea and Chinese food. This type of tea is grown in India, but its historical roots come from China. This makes it a good option for tea and food pairing;

    Tea Pairings with Desserts

    Tea and espresso drinks are among the preferred non-alcoholic options for dessert pairing. The flavors of the tea can enhance the taste of the dessert. Traditionally, desserts are the last course of a meal and this makes tea an ideal beverage to complement them. Allow us to share a few ideas of combinations a restaurant can add to its afternoon menu or just offer as an addition to lunch and dinner desserts. 

    Rooibos Tea and Chocolate Desserts

    The rich taste of chocolate desserts combines excellently with the sweet flavor of Rooibos tea. This tea type is caffeine-free and is a light option for other heavy dessert categories

    Jasmine Tea and Fruity Desserts

    The floral notes of Jasmine tea can become an excellent tea and food pairing with fruit-based desserts. Berry tarts, cheesecakes, fruit salads, and pudding are good options to combine with the sweet and fresh notes of jasmine. 

    Chai Tea and Spiced Desserts

    Many desserts are heavy on spices such as cinnamon and ginger. Their taste is complemented by the warm and spicy flavor of Masala chai or simply called chai tea. 

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    Benefits of Offering Suitable Tea Pairings in a Restaurant

    Restaurant managers understand that the food and beverage industry is changing. Nowadays, there are numerous new tea and coffee trends. And if you fall behind the trends, you’ll lose your place in this dynamic market. Here are a few ways how a venue can benefit from offering a large variety of tea options.

    “Do It for the Gram” Customers

    The role of food, tea and coffee in the restaurant has changed a lot. Visiting a restaurant is becoming increasingly more about the experience rather than the food itself. Young consumers are the future, and they’ve been on social media for the majority of their lives. Therefore, the aesthetic representation of tea and food is becoming increasingly important. “Do it for the gram” means doing something mostly to show it on social media like Instagram. And a lot of people will opt for a fancy dining experience and a cup of luxurious specialty tea, so they can add content to their social media profiles. One of the tricks for social media marketing for restaurants is to turn that behavior to your advantage. This way, your clients will advertise your place. All you need to do is offer them a truly Instagram-worthy experience. Additional marketing benefits can be extracted from techniques such as coffee brewing and tea steeping lessons. People tend to increasingly like such experiences.

    Increased Average Order Value

    Tea has excellent upsell potential. As a non-alcoholic drink, it can be consumed even by drivers and guests below the drinking age. Also, tea doesn’t take up much space in a restaurant’s inventory. It also has a long shelf life. So it’s an easy option to add to the menu compared to other drinks or foods.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Food and Tea Pairings

    Although tea is not as popular as wine pairing when it comes to restaurants, it also brings out flavors in every course of the meal. Allow us to answer some popular questions regarding tea pairings.

    What Are the Most Popular Teas?

    Earl Grey, green, Chamomile, Darjeeling, peppermint, and jasmine tea are among the most popular choices for teas in restaurants. All of them are great pairing options for a variety of dishes.

    Can Tea Be Delivered?

    Tea is best consumed hot, shortly after it’s steeped. Therefore, if you wish to make it available for online ordering, you can consider delivering it in packaging with instructions for people on how to properly steep it at home. Alternatively, you can offer subscription boxes of teas and desserts. Cold brew subscription boxes are on the rise. There’s no reason why tea bags & desserts can’t become the next trend.

    Are There Any Good Tea Pairings with Alcohol?

    Yes. Tea pairs well not only with food but also with drinks like rum, whiskey, and brandy. Мany cocktail drinks include tea.

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