Wednesday, March 20, 2013

World of Tea Series: Cheese and Tea Pairing Workshop

The good people behind the Northwest Tea Festival also coordinate the World of Tea Series, tea workshops and demonstrations held at venues in the Pacific Northwest throughout the year.  If you'd like to take part in future events, be sure to check the World of Tea Series page regularly for updates.

On Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity to attend the first World of Tea Series event of 2013, a Cheese and Tea Pairing workshop hosted by Perennial Tea Room and Brian Gilbert of Beecher's Handmade Cheese (both businesses are located in Seattle's famous Pike Place Market).  The sun had set and the weather was cold and rainy, ideal for enjoying hot tea and savory cheeses in a cozy, warmly lit tea room.  Brian and Julee Rosanoff (Perennial Tea Room owner) provided us with a wealth of information about the cheeses and teas we were enjoying.

The workshop was experimental as we would be tasting and comparing the "best" combinations of cheese and tea among the samples provided.  "Best" results would differ for each person as their own tastes would differ from others, though we did have a consensus on a couple combinations.  Other factors that make each experience unique are the always changing characteristics of each tea as the flavor and aroma is altered by changes in weather as well as other factors unique to each tea plantation.  Aged cheeses are similarly affected by conditions of their terroir.

The cheese samples provided by Brian were:
Seastack (Beecher's)
Flagship (Beecher's)
Flagship Reserve (Beecher's)
Rogue River Blue Cheese (Rogue River Creamery)

The tea samples provided by Perennial Tea Room were:
Imperial Yunnan
Khongea Estate Assam
Lapsang Souchong

As I mentioned, results for the group were varied and unique to the individual.  There was a surprising consensus that the cheese that paired best with the Lapsang Souchong was the Flagship which had given an unexpectedly pleasant sweetness and mildness to the bold flavor of the tea.

My favorite pairings for the evening were:
  • Imperial Yunnan paired with Seastack
  • Lapsang Souchong paired with Flagship
  • Khongea Estate Assam paired with Flagship Reserve
  • Imperial Yunnan paired with Rogue River Blue Cheese
This was a great experience and I have plans to experiment with other combinations of tea and cheese in the future.

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