Thanksgiving is once again upon us. And tea is an important part of this annual gathering of kith and kin. No matter what your menu is, from the traditional, Norman Rockwell-esque Thanksgiving dinner or something very untraditional and unique, there is a tea perfect to make that meal complete. Tea is also a great option for guests too young for those alcoholic beverages so typical this time of year. And you might have a teetotaler or two on that guest list.
Tea with your Thanksgiving feast sure isn’t usual here in the U.S. despite the growing awareness of tea for enjoyment and possible health benefits. Try serving a tea that has a fairly general appeal, and you’ll find more of your guests saying, “Sure, I’ll have a cuppa!”
Flavored teas are especially welcome at such times, especially ones that are typical for this time of year: pumpkin, cranberry, cinnamon, apple, oranges, and various spices.
A tea style that goes with a wide range of foods, hot or iced (I’m keeping all you folks in warmer climates, like the Southwest U.S., in mind here).
This is the time of year for those Autumnal Darjeelings, but even some First and Second Flush teas can have a wonderful impact with foods like these:
- Meats ― Turkey, Hamburgers, Chicken (Buffalo Wings, Curry, Lemon), Lamb, Smoked Ham, Eggs, Quiche, Pork, other meat curries, Carpaccio (an appetizer made of raw meat or fish, thinly sliced or pounded thin).
- Fish/Seafood ― Blinis with Salmon, Smoked or Grilled Fish/Seafood,
- Cheeses ― Brie, Cheddar, Cream Cheese, Edam (best with Autumn Flush Darjeeling), Camembert (best with First Flush Darjeeling).
- Vegetables ― Eggplant, Potato Salad, Morel Mushrooms (best with Second-Flush or Autumn Flush Darjeeling), Polenta (cornmeal boiled into a porridge – can be eaten as is or baked, fried, grilled).
- Herbs/Spices ― Cinnamon (best with Autumn Flush Darjeeling), Basil, Ginger, Mint, Nutmeg.
- Desserts/Sweets ― Chocolate (Dark, Milk, or White), Baklava, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, Crème Brûlée, Crêpes, Fruit Compote/Tart (Ones with Apples, Blackcurrants, Raspberries, Strawberries), Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Fresh Fruit, Avocados.
- Taiwanese ― Try one with a smooth and slightly sweet flavor.
- Chinese ― One of the best known Chinese oolongs is Tie Guan Yin. It has a light flavor that won’t overwhelm anyone’s tastebuds after all that sage, thyme, garlic, and other spices in your vegetable and meat dishes. In fact, it can be a great after dinner palate cleanser.
- Spring Pouchong Tea ― This is a rather surprising tea, pairing with more foods than you might think. Plus, although many classify this as an oolong, it is so lightly oxidized that it is more like a green tea. Goes well with: Chicken Curry, Anchovies, Gorgonzola and Muenster Cheeses, Avocados, Potato Salad, Antipasto (even ones with meats in them), Baklava, and Desserts with Bananas, Vanilla, Mint, or Fresh Fruit. Some of these might not be on your Thanksgiving menu, but maybe you could add on or two just for some variety.
- Cranberry ― A popular fruit for the Thanksgiving feast is the cranberry, so a tea with cranberry flavoring can be a great accompaniment. Steep it light to avoid overdoing that cranberry taste.
- Pumpkin ― Another common flavor this time of year, and so a natural choice is Pumpkin Spice Flavored Black Tea. Black teas and South African Rooibos, with natural pumpkin flavoring and cinnamon. Tastes perfect served hot with milk and sugar and can be a great tea for that snack of turkey leftovers or as a substitute for that higher calorie wedge of pie and whipped cream.
- Spices ― Tea with spices are called simply “chai” (or many in the U.S. call them “chai teas”) and vary from more of a sweet taste to more sharply spicy. On the sweet end of the scale is Vanilla Chai. A more traditional flavor is Indian Spiced Chai.
- Apple Spice Black Tea — A black tea (natural high grown Ceylon tea from estates at more than 5500 feet above sea level) with fruity flavor of apples and delicious cinnamon notes.
- Cinnamon Black Tea — A black tea (high grown Ceylon tea from estates at more than 5500 feet above sea level) mildly spiced with a refreshing cinnamon flavor.
- Orange Spice Black Tea — A naturally flavored black tea (high grown Ceylon tea from estates at more than 5500 feet above sea level), tangy taste of Florida oranges, and fresh cinnamon.
So many options. Pick one you like and that you think the majority of your guests (even those who usually drink coffee) will like. Then, relax and focus on cooking that bird to perfection!