The Ultimate Guide to Food Pairings with Tea

how to pair tea with food

Tea has been part of our lives throughout the centuries. Over this time period, we have managed to pair certain teas with particular foods.

No matter what food is on your plate, there is a tea that can be paired with it.

That is mainly thanks to the wide selection of teas that are available today. In this article, we will take a deeper look into tea and food pairing.

We’ll see what foods are suited to certain loose leaf teas as well as how to pair them together.

Let’s get into it.  


What food goes with tea?

cup of tea with pan au chocolate.

Pairing food with tea is mainly down to your tastes and preferences. However, throughout the years there have been teas that seem to pair well with certain foods.

These include:

  • White tea with light salads, steamed seafood, or fresh fruit.
  • Green tea with sushi, Asian cuisine, or light, citrusy desserts.
  • Black tea with hearty breakfast foods, chocolate desserts, or spicy dishes.
  • Herbal teas with fruity desserts, cheese plates, or light sandwiches.
  • Oolong tea with roasted vegetables, grilled meats, or nutty desserts.


How to pair tea with food

Here’s a guide to help you pair tea with food effectively:


tea with dates


Understand the tea 

Start by understanding the flavour profile of the tea you want to pair. 

Consider factors such as: 

  • Type of tea. 
  • Aroma. 
  • Sweetness. 
  • Bitterness.
  • Any unique notes it may have (e.g., floral, fruity, earthy).


Consider the food 

Think about the flavours, textures, and characteristics of the food you plan to serve. 

Are you serving something sweet, savoury, creamy, or spicy? 

Is it light and delicate or rich and hearty? 

Understanding the food’s profile will help you choose a tea that complements or contrasts with it.


Match intensity

tea and indian snacks

Match the intensity of the tea with the intensity of the food. 

Lighter teas like white or green teas pair well with lighter dishes such as salads, seafood, or delicate pastries. 

Stronger teas like black tea or pu-erh can stand up to richer foods like chocolate, grilled meats, or spicy dishes.


Consider flavour combinations

Look for flavour combinations that enhance each other. 

For example, if you’re serving a citrusy dessert, consider pairing it with a lemon-infused tea to enhance the citrus notes. 

Alternatively, you can choose teas with complementary flavours, such as pairing floral teas with desserts featuring floral ingredients like lavender or rose.


Experiment with contrasts 

Contrasting flavours can also create interesting pairings. 

For instance, pairing a smoky Lapsang Souchong with sweet desserts can create a fascinating interplay of flavours. 

Similarly, pairing a crisp, refreshing green tea with a rich, creamy dessert can provide a pleasant contrast.


Consider regional pairings 

tea and scones

Some tea and food pairings are traditional in specific regions or cultures. 

In China, it’s common to pair jasmine tea with dim sum, while in Japan, matcha is often served with traditional sweets like mochi or wagashi.


Pair according to the season

Consider the season when selecting food and tea pairings. 

Lighter teas and foods might be more refreshing in the summer, while richer, spicier options could be more comforting in the winter.


Best foods for different types of tea

Green Tea

Spiced Green Loose Leaf Tea Small Two Taster Bag

Light and delicate foods that won’t overpower the subtle flavours of green tea.

Examples include: 

  • Sushi. 
  • Steamed or grilled seafood. 
  • Green salads with vinaigrette dressing.
  • Lightly seasoned white meats like chicken or turkey.
  • Fruity desserts such as citrus tarts or fruit salads.


Black Tea

English Breakfast Black Loose Leaf Tea Small Two Taster Bag

Robust and hearty foods that can stand up to the bold flavours of black tea. It’s also perfect when having a Sunday roast with meat and vegetables. 

Great when paired with dishes like:

  • Eggs and bacon. 
  • Pastries like croissants or muffins. 
  • Savoury sandwiches with meats and cheeses. 
  • Chocolate desserts.
  • Creamy desserts like chocolate cake or tiramisu.


Oolong Tea

Oolong Loose Leaf Tea Small Two Taster Bag

Oolong tea has a diverse flavour profile, so it pairs well with a variety of foods. It is also said to cleanse the palate which makes it a great addition when having spicy food. 

Try pairing oolong tea with:

  • Roasted vegetables. 
  • Grilled meats.
  • Stir-fries. 
  • Dim sum. 
  • Sushi. 
  • Nutty desserts like almond cake or baklava.
  • Lightly spiced dishes.


White Tea

Silver Needle White Loose Leaf Tea Small Two Taster Bag

Light and delicate foods complement the subtle flavours of white tea. This is why you shouldn’t consume any rich foods with white tea as you could cancel out its flavour.

Ideally, White tea should be consumed on its own to truly appreciate the flavour.  

Pair white tea with: 

  • Fresh fruits like berries or melons. 
  • Light salads with citrus dressing. 
  • Poached or grilled fish. 
  • Mild cheeses like brie or goat cheese. 
  • Floral desserts like angel food cake or coconut macaroons.


Herbal Tea

Peppermint Herbal Loose Leaf Tea Small Two Taster Bag

Herbal teas come in a wide range of flavours, so the best foods to pair with them depend on the specific herbal infusion. 

These are the green teas and foods you should pair together:

  • Fruity herbal teas with fresh fruit salads.
  • Floral herbal teas with light pastries or scones. 
  • Spicy herbal teas with savoury dishes like curries or stews.
  • Minty herbal teas with chocolate desserts or Middle Eastern cuisine.


Pu-erh Tea

Pu-Erh Black Loose Leaf Tea Small Two Taster Bag

Pu-erh tea has earthy and complex flavours, so it pairs well with rich and savoury foods. 

Pair pu-erh tea with: 

  • Roasted or grilled meats. 
  • Aged cheeses. 
  • Dark chocolate desserts. 
  • Hearty soups or stews.
  • Earthy dishes like mushrooms or truffle risotto.



Supreme Matcha Green Loose Leaf Tea Small Two Taster Bag

Matcha has a distinct grassy and slightly bitter flavour, so it pairs well with foods that balance its intensity. 

Pair matcha with:

  • Sweet treats like matcha-flavoured desserts (e.g., matcha ice cream, matcha cake). 
  • Creamy desserts like cheesecake or panna cotta. 
  • Savoury snacks like sushi or avocado toast.
  • Citrus fruits like lemon or orange.


Pair Food with Loose Leaf Tea

As you can see, there is a variety of foods that can be paired with the wide selection of tea that is available.

At Leaf Tea, we stock an extensive library of loose leaf tea that you can enjoy with your food.

If you would like to learn more about what tea goes best with other food types then please reach out to us.