Teas to Serve with Christmas Ham

Many folks go for turkey and Thanksgiving but switch to ham for their Christmas dinner. It’s a great change of taste and welcomes a variety of teas for a great pairing.

A feast for the senses! (photo used with permission)

Black Teas

  • Assam — grown from the varietal Camellia Sinensis assamica, the leaves are tougher and steep up stronger than teas grown from the varietal Camellia Sinensis sinensis; the liquid is usually a ruby red color with a malty aroma and rather bitter if steeped the full 5 minutes recommended, which is why it is usually good with milk and sugar.
  • Ceylon — a rich black tea with a raisiny aroma to the dry leaves and a raisiny/curranty quality to the steeped liquid; can also be bitter if steeped a full 5 minutes and is good with milk and sugar.
  • Kenyan — grown from the same varietal (Camellia Sinensis assamica) but the terroir makes it less bitter, especially when steeped for only 3 minutes instead of 5 minutes (typical time for most black teas).

Green Tea

  • Dragonwell (Longjing or Lungching) — a green tea that goes great with a number of foods (pumpkin pie, clam chowder, fried or grilled fish/seafood, prawns, dishes made with basil, and pork); the true Dragonwell is a bit higher in price than those versions made from leaves outside of the Dragonwell area, and that true version is worth it, being more full of the flavors this tea is known for (full, round, uniquely nutty).

Darjeeling Teas

  • Autumn Flush — this is usually the last harvest of the growing season and tends to be stronger in flavor, standing up to strong flavors like ham.
  • Blend — some vendors blend different flushes from different tea gardens (due to a new designation, the blend should not contain any significant amount of non-Darjeeling teas); these blends are often more balanced and consistent in flavor that particular flushes from particular gardens.

Oolong Teas

  • Taiwanese — for some oolong aficionados, only those oolongs grown and produced in Taiwan really count as oolongs; we aren’t not going to go there but will say that this tea, with it’s varied flavors, makes a wonderful accompaniment to the saltiness of ham.
  • Thai — fairly new on the market outside of Thailand, each one is a delight, whether you sip it before, during, or after your meal.
  • Chinese — most of these oolongs come from the Yunnan province, which also produces fine pu-erhs and even black, green, and white teas; the oolongs are especially good with your meal and are said to aid digestion, but we leave that for you to decide.

Take you pick and be ready when that ham is served up for a food and tea pairing delight. Depending on the tea you’re serving, you could drink them from goblets, as shown in the photo above, to add a touch of elegance!

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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