Pairing tea with gastronomic breads was a rather frivolous assignment, but here are the results of my past week’s happy research, on location in Europe!
Some general findings: As with the breads last month, texture played a role in the success of these tea pairings. With sweeter rolls and dessert breads, the butter/shortening type and content made this a more straightforward difference than with the “straight” breads. Also, the higher fat content allowed white and green teas to shine brighter with this group than with the previous breads, so this was a nice find, and allowed for some more creative pairings.
Brioche – Light and airy. I preferred this bread with Darjeeling and our classic Organic Blue Mountain Nilgiri black tea. But it also danced beautifully with light and flavored greens; a Japanese Sencha was a very nice choice.
Croissants – These wonderful flaky pastry breads are a perfect match with a crisp, straight black Ceylon tea. However, the match made in heaven was a plain croissant with Meditative Mind, a blend of white peony Bai Mu Dan, Rosebuds, and Jasmine. I never realized until this pairing just how much that tea cries out for butter.
Pain au Chocolat – Admittedly pushing the “bread” category, this is great with Darjeelings, Earl Greys, and greens blended with citrus to help make the chocolate ring through.
Beignet – Another white tea wonder-match! Amazing what these light and fluffy fried doughs can do for a delicate high-end tea. I’ll stop just short of recommending a trip to Krispy Kreme the next time you plan to relax with your afternoon Bai Mu Dan (how wonderfully ironic that white tea’s so popular for weight loss), but I think you just might agree.
Panettone (Italian Christmas Bread) and Kulich (Russian Easter Bread) – Connoisseurs will probably want my head for this one, but as a Russian girl growing up in New York, I couldn’t wait for this Easter bread to be made every year. However, I also got my fill at the Christmas holiday, thanks to my Italian friends. To me, they’re very similar. Anyway, I was able to get some Panettone recently, and aside from the suspected great pairing with a nice black Ceylon tea, it was absolutely splendid with a Red Rooibos – I had it with a blended version with Vanilla and Almonds, our Red Rocks. It worked beautifully with the flavorings in the bread, and the texture all around was oh, so smooth… Another fine pairing here was with a heavier, smoky green tea – Gunpowder. Both the texture and the flavor of the Panettone stood up to it and the contrast worked in favor of both the tea and the bread.
Lebkuchen and Honey Cakes – Lebkuchen are like the gourmet version of gingerbread-light, and German honey cakes are a delightful sweet bread. Loved these with both a black Yunnan and our Boulder Blues, the green tea blend with wild strawberry and rhubarb.
I’ve attempted to draw the line at “breads”, and am deferring those dreams of sugarplums dancing in my head for a later holiday post…probably followed by an exploration of actual experiments of tea for weight loss! I hope to have helped you avoid any excessive tasting.
What kind of bread goes well with raw, green Puerh? That’s what I’d like to know since it’s my favorite tea. But I’m not much of a bread eater so I’d like to know what others think.
Excellent. I’m loving these suggestions. I’m not a black tea drinker and I’m afraid that’s what is often served with high tea and delicate sweet breads/cakes. You’ve validated my pleasure when I’ve paired my whites and greens with yummy breads. Keep up the good work and I suspect you’ll really be needing some weight loss tea in the near future. Too bad about that. I love bread almost as much as I love tea – I did say almost.
Thanks Michelle! And Jason, why don’t you try a nice artisanal black pumpernickel with your raw green Pu’erh… and let me know how it goes! As far as sweeter things go, I’d try it with a brioche.
I’m imagining something savory with green pu’erh, like focaccia. I’m thinking about one particularly salty, herby, drenched-in-olive-oil one that our wholefoods bakery makes. mmmmm…. But it’s only in my imagination at this point, so I’ll need to try that combo out.
Oh myyyy… Sitting here post lunch craving something exceptionally naughty! This bread looks like just the thing I could use to fulfill my sweet tooth.
And Michelle, weight loss shmeight loss! :)
I love the fact you prepared the bread to go alone with the tea! AWESOME and it looks amazing!
Amazing. Maria, please write a book someday! You’ve given me so many ideas for the bakery case/pairings.
Maria–did you mean pumpernickel with a ripe Puerh? That’s a dark tea whereas the raw Puerh is more like a green tea. Pumpernickel would go with the darkness, I imagine. But I think Jessica might be on the right track with her focaccia suggestion. I’m going to make it a point to find some good-quality focaccia to try with the young Puerh.
Well, my bad. I tried a couple artisan white breads with the green Puerh but was disappointed. It was not as I’d imagined. Then this morning I went out to get a nice pumpernickel from the local bakery. And it was incredible. Simply divine. It goes hand-in-hand with green Puerh so well it’s a little hard to believe. I’m glad I was proven wrong with my doubts, though. I just wanted to find the right bread to go with my favorite tea. It’s right for me because I don’t much like the sweets or rich food that are so typical of traditional tea time. So, thank you Maria.