Teatime Buddies: Tea & Cheese
When you think of afternoon tea at a posh hotel, cucumber sandwiches and scones probably pop into your head as the typical accoutrements for a pot of your favorite tea — that is, until you’ve tasted black tea paired with cheese.
This untraditional combination didn’t shock me too much, as I’ve already been a convert to black coffee with cheese. Tea was just a step away. Recently, The Lambs Club added to their afternoon tea menu Le Palais des Thés’s Darjeeling Mission Hill ($8) with the Tête de Moine ($6) as a pairing suggestion. I was intrigued.
The Grand Cru Mission Hill Darjeeling, affectionately nicknamed “the champagne of tea” for its delicate flavors and rarity, is picked during the first harvest in the spring so it is youthful and virginally vegetal. It is also quite astringent (or, in wine terms, tannic), which is actually the key to this pairing! The bitter notes and tannins in this tea cut through the buttery notes of the cow’s milk Tête de Moine, which is always served in shaved spirals. The flaky texture of this Swiss cheese is another plus, since a soft, creamy cheese would just melt into oblivion with a sip of this strong and handsome tea!