Pairing Sweets With Tea

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Dearies, I’ve been studying our calendar in the kitchen and noticed there are two days in October dedicated to sweet treats! National Dessert Day (Oct. 14th) and National Chocolate Day (Oct. 28th). Throw in the candy-loving holiday of Halloween, and I think October should just be called Sweet Tooth Month!

These sweet celebrations reminded me of a trip I took with Char to Vienna. Such a beautiful, historic city, and gorgeous pastries of every size and flavor! Daydreaming of celebrations and Viennese pastry led me to an idea- wouldn’t it be fun to a have a tea and mini dessert party!? I think it’s the perfect excuse to have at least one tea and dessert get-together, so I mentioned it to Kat this morning. She of course agreed. We got right down to business and started thinking about the sweet treats to serve and what teas to pair with them.

When you are pairing teas with the sweets, there are two main directions you can go in- you can try to pair the sweets with teas that have similar flavor notes (floral, honey, fruity, spicy, nutty, etc). Or you could pair by strength- lighter desserts with lighter teas and rich desserts with bolder teas.

Kat and I have greatly enjoyed doing our ‘research’. Here are some flavor combinations we are dreaming (and drooling) over:

Dark chocolate desserts are strong with a slightly bitter sweetness. We enjoyed pairing these with a malty bold Assam that stood up to the strong flavor. A full bodied floral and sweet second flush Darjeeling also complimented the chocolate. My favorite is serving an Earl Grey with that dark chocolate dessert. The bergamot enhances the sweet bitterness beautifully. We figured this out when Kat brought home a box of artisanal chocolates a co-worker gave her as a thank you note. When she tried the dark chocolate early grey truffle, the flavors were singing on her tongue.

For a milk chocolate dessert, try a gentle and vegetal sencha green tea or a lightly roasted floral oolong. The flavor of the chocolate is a bit mellower, and the sweetness will pair well with the green tea. The floral and honey notes in the oolong are lovely with the milk chocolate.

For a super-rich dessert like cheesecake, go as bold as you can with your tea. Smoky flavors also work well, to cut through the richness. Try keemun, or lapsang souchong for strong flavors, a bit of astringency, and the smokiness. The layers of flavor will add new dimension to your dessert. Our favorite tea to pair with a decadent treat is an earthy, sweet pu-erh to cut through the richness and soothe the tummy.

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Since it is apple season, bake up an apple cake, or mini apple tarts and serve it with Darjeeling. The grapey fruit flavor of the Darjeeling will complement the apples quite nicely. The floral notes will make you feel as if you are sitting in an apple orchard!

For milder desserts a white tea would be lovely. For something nutty, try pairing with hojicha, a roasted green tea. Have a dessert with caramel? A medium-roasted oolong would pair nicely.

What would you serve and a tea and dessert party? The best way to decide is to get out there and get tasting!

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