During the holiday season, and especially at that Thanksgiving Feast, certain foods and beverages hold sway as traditional. But you lovers of fine teas – those special oolongs, green teas, white teas, and even pu-erhs – can still include these with your favorite Thanksgiving foods, both traditional and untraditional. All it takes is a little knowledge, which we are presenting here (saves you the time of hunting all over the place for it).
A rather surprising tea that pairs with quite a number of foods. Many tea experts classify this as an oolong (and that’s where we put it on our store site), but it is so lightly oxidized that it is closer to a green tea. This tea is from northern Taiwan and has a lovely and totally natural floral aroma – in fact, a stronger floral aroma means a higher quality of tea, with “Selected Premium” being the highest grade. The wicker-shaped leaves are a lovely holiday shade of dark- to jade-green, and they infuse a liquid that is clear, pure, and bright yellow-greenish in color. Savor the aroma and flavor, and wait for that light sweet undertone to develop.
Food pairings: best holiday dishes would be appetizers with anchovies, gorgonzola, and muenster; avocado dip; antipasto (for you folks who like a more Italian slant on your Thanksgiving – and I know several folks who do); chicken curry (for those who lean toward an Indian style menu); and various sweets such as baklava, banana-based, ones with vanilla or mint, and fresh fruits (great for those of us watching the calories this time of year.
We have gotten to know quite a few Darjeeling Teas here from several of the 87/88 tea gardens officially designated as Darjeeling tea gardens. Here we’re speaking generally of the basic fully-oxidized versions of Darjeeling tea. And you can serve them either hot or iced, depending on what climate zone you live in. Try a Second Flush or Autumn Flush (see our selection here).
Food pairings: turkey (of course!), but also good with other meats including lamb, smoked ham, and pork; eggs and egg dishes such as quiche; salmon, grilled/smoked fish, anchovies; a chees platter that includes brie, cheddar, those cream cheese based cheese balls, and Edam (especially with Autumn Flush Darjeeling); vegetables such as eggplant and Morel mushrooms; holiday spices, especially cinnamon (great with Autumn Flush Darjeeling), basil, ginger, mint, nutmeg; and of course those important holiday desserts and sweets, including all chocolates, cheesecake, fruit tarts (apple, blackcurrant, raspberry, strawberry), and pecan or pumpkin pie.
In Asia this is known as a red tea, but to folks in the U.S. it’s known as black tea. They name it according to the liquid color which is a lovely ruby color for the most part. We call it by the color of the dry leaves, which are dark brown to black. This tea is very time-consuming to process. The leaves, after harvest, undergo specific steps. It is from Fengqing, an area where residents have been processing this tea for over 150 years (rather short in terms of tea in general but long enough to assure the availability of skilled workers. The liquid has a high freshness and sweetness with little or no astringency, so you can enjoy it straight with those high-calorie foods. This is also a great tea to infuse in a U.S./European style porcelain/ceramic teapot, or gongfu style in a gaiwan, Yixing pot, or glass cup.
Food pairings: turkey (of course!), plus other meats such as lamb, roasts, and briskets; chocolates (milk or white); fruit desserts; seasonal spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
(See also Why Fengqing Teas Are So Good.)
This is a fairly well-known tea among tea connoisseurs. Our version is the West Lake Imperial Handmade one, a premium example of this style of green tea. It is grown in the mountains around the West Lake area of Hangzhou in the central coastal province of Zhejiang, China. This tea is so well-regarded there that it is frequently given to visiting heads of state. The tea leaves of longjing teas infuse a yellow-green color with a gentle, pure aroma and rich flavor. This West Lake Longjing is famous for its chestnut aroma and sweet tea soup.
Food pairings: smoked ham (so keep it in mind for your Christmas dinner if you switch from turkey to ham); chocolate (milk or white); brie and camembert cheeses; spices such as basil; and desserts such as cheesecake and fruit compote/tarts (apple, blackcurrant, strawberry).
(See also What Is Longjing Tea?)
A recent category on our store site are teas with classic flavors and/or holiday themes, so we wanted to include this classic mint tea with its base of gunpowder gree tea from China, brightened with spearmint leaves. A popular tea in Moroccan and other parts of the world, and becoming more popular here in the U.S. You can enjoy it like the Moroccans do – place a sugar cube between your front teeth and sip the hot tea through the sugar to get some sweetness. Or you can add honey, sugar, a bit of lemon, or none of the above! And since it is made with a fine quality tea base, you can infuse it more than once.
Food pairings: spicy foods (a little turkey curry, anyone?) and meats served rare.
Hope this helps your Thanksgiving (and beyond) holiday meal planning!