A Beginner’s Guide to Pairing Snacks with Your Afternoon Tea

Not only is tea quite relaxing to drink, but it’s also a versatile beverage that you can pair with many different snacks on an afternoon with friends or even by yourself.

The purpose of pairing tea with food is to bring out and complement each other’s flavor when consumed. When preparing a recipe to pair with tea, keep the main ingredients in mind as a reference for knowing which kind of tea to pair.

For instance, a more robust tea will go well with a more strongly flavored recipe, while a milder tea should ideally go with more milder and subdued flavors. However, if you do pair a strong flavor with a more subdued or subtle one, there is a good chance that one of the flavors will overpower the other.

To help you get started, here is a list of the different kinds of tea as well as the snacks that pair well with them:

1. White Tea
White tea is known for its silky, yet subtle flavor, and stronger flavors will mask this taste. The best kind food to pair with this tea should either be cucumber salads or lightly-flavored seafood recipes, or even fish. You can even add fireweed or wildflower honey to the tea to better bring out the subtle flavors.

2. Green Tea
Green tea has three main flavor profiles: fruity, smoky, and vegetal. Each of these flavors highlights the snacks in their own different ways.

Fruity green tea will hold well when served with unsweetened pastries or other foods with a relatively mild flavor, such as chicken, sandwiches, or even fruit salads, while deep-fried or greasy recipes will mask the taste of the tea.

For the last two kinds of foods, smoky green tea is a better fit, owing to its robustness. Smoky green tea also brings out the flavor of potatoes and light stir-fry dishes, and is the most common kind of Chinese green tea.
Perhaps the least common is vegetal green tea, which pairs best with seafood because of its fresh, grassy flavor.

3. Black Tea
Black tea is more robust in flavor than the previous two, which allows you to pair it with more full-flavored foods such as meats and certain spicy dishes. Sweetened pastries can also taste much better when paired with this tea.

4. Oolong Tea
Oolong has a more complex aroma, which makes it especially versatile and can bring out the flavors of a wide variety of foods, ranging from seafood and fish dishes to greasy, grilled meats. Oolong tea falls into light or dark categories, each with their own ideal pairings.

For light oolong tea, sweet rich seafood and lightly salted snacks are your best bet. Meanwhile, dark oolong will work better with fuller dishes such as grilled meats.