It's exactly 10 years that I wrote a first article (in French) on the subject of tea sommeliers. So, this concept is not new for me, but I still find it interesting and not sufficiently explored. In Europe and America, there are very few tea friendly restaurants. This is despite the fact that wine consumption is going down. Sometimes it's due to the need of staying sober to drive, or because of religious beliefs, or because it's less socially accepted to drink during lunch break when you're working. So, tea is a potential alternative for all those who don't want wine with their food, but would like a drink that underlines the taste of the meal.
|Wine for a cheese pairing|
This summer, I had the opportunity to eat at one of Strasbourg's best restaurant, the Buerehiesel. So, I brought my Yong Lung Hung Shui Oolong along, because I had to drive 20 miles after the dinner and couldn't drink wine. The discovery menu was exquisite and I particularly liked these frog legs with chervil. The reduced gravy had hints of caviar! And the roasted notes of the Hung Shui gave depth and length to the taste in my mouth. This felt glorious.
Most people in Europe or America, when they think of tea, it's tea bags that come to mind first. And I have to agree that it IS very pretentious to attempt to pair CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) tea bags with haute cuisine! Tea bags are worthy of fast food and have nothing to do with fine dining.
Top quality tea leaves, on the other hand, are made with the same care, skill and devotion as butter poached Nova Scotia lobster or braised asparagus with black truffle!
It's a rightful choice to pair top food with great quality tea. And there's nothing pretentious in aiming to well prepare, serve and pair aged Menghai puerh or a finely roasted Dong Ding Oolong in a top restaurant. And the fact that so few restaurants do it should be viewed as a wonderful opportunity to innovate!