Last month’s post described the fascinating discovery of fresh herb-and-spice pairings with various teas. At the request of T Ching readers, this month, I am sharing some of the less-than-heavenly tea-herb combinations that came out of this experiment!
Cherries (OK, so it’s not an herb…but a good blooper!) – Inspired by the many cherry-flavored Japanese teas, I was determined (because they were in season) to pair something cherry with such a tea. But alas, at the risk of sounding closed-minded, my conclusion was: black teas only with pies, and black or white teas only with cherries. If you really want an uninspired mouthful, make a cup of cherry sencha to drink with your cherry pie. For my taste buds, this combo created enough astringency to make me sour on both.
Cumin – Curiously enough, I didn’t like chutney with any straight black teas. I just couldn’t get either one to enhance the other. Our flavored Mango Tango black Ceylon did well on ice, but the clear winner in this pairing was Gunpowder Green. Moroccan Mint tea (Gunpowder with spearmint) was OK, but a little too much for my palate to process all at once!
Basil – Another big mistake was basil with black tea – a totally unfriendly mouthful. These two do not play well together (but you may recall, basil was a big winner with our green tea blend, Boulder Blues).
Red Chiles – Last month’s post mentioned this failure, which I was almost unwilling to admit to because it was such a “natural fit” in my mind – but a fun experiment to try. Next time you make a spicy stir fry with fresh red chiles, steep a pot of peppery Yunnan on the side. As you alternate between sips and bites, you almost lose all spiciness in the escalation of heat between the two – very funny, as this combo is a great example of devaluing both products through a weak pairing.
Chives – Another tough one to crack. I kept hoping that a black tea, perhaps even a flavored one with some citrus tones (I was hoping for our Mango Tango, on ice) or a nice strong Pu’erh or Yunnan would resonate well here. But they kept butting heads. It wasn’t until I switched to green teas that some winners emerged – and here, the subtle astringency in the green teas really sang alongside the spike of the chives.
Parsley – This one still leaves me looking for its tea partner. I’ve tried it with Keemun, Ceylon, Gunpowder, Sencha, and even Pu’erh. What it might need is a touch of lemon added to Ceylon, or a flavored green like our Boulder Blues…but I ran out of steam. An iced black or green Ceylon with a slice of lemon will be my next try here…
Garlic – And last, but certainly not least, I have found no good friends for garlic in the tea world – so thank Goodness for red wine!