Review by Olivia C Read the original Reddit post here
Like many other tea enjoyers here, I was approached by Iteaworld and kindly offered to sample a selection of their classic teas. For this first review, I tested 2 oolongs and 2 black teas, paired with cheeses with the help of a very nice cheesemonger near my workplace! All teas were brewed Western style in a teapot. From top to bottom:
Tie Guanyin & Gorgonzola by the spoon
🍵As soon as the sachet is open, you're hit with a flowery scent. Upon tasting it, the fragrant smell is still (pleasantly) omnipresent and a fresh green aftertaste lingers in your mouth. Why use a mouthwash when you can drink this Tieguanyin? Slight astringency and buttery feel as it rolls on your tongue. Thirst-quenching tea, an ode to freshness.
🧀Paired with the Gorgonzola: the Tieguanyin tones down the saltiness of the cheese by a lot! The cheese enhances the flowery profile of the tea and made me pinpoint that fragrance as "jasmine" whereas when I tried the tea by itself, I could only think of "generic white flowers". The TGY's astringency also accentuates the creaminess of the Gorgonzola. Nice complementary pairing!
Fenhuang Dancong & l'Étivaz
🍵Wow. It is as if a sentient passion fruit grabbed my nose when I smelled the leaves. After drinking the liquor, I couldn't find any roasted notes, only cooked exotic fruits with a bit of honey and a pleasant touch of tartness. The tea tasted sweet and I detected a geranium aroma. A bit more astringent than the TGY but still with a velvety mouth feel.
🧀Paired with the Étivaz: a congruent combination! My cheesemonger mentioned this cheese had hints of pineapple so she believed it would pair harmoniously with the Fenhuang Dancong and she was right! I'm not saying you'll feel like eating a fruit salad tho haha! The pairing is very smooth, and the cheese adds the nutty notes that I thought were lacking in the tea. A nice waltz between the Étivaz' tanginess and the Fenhuang Dancong's flowery notes. Somehow, the cheese made the geranium aroma turn into roses.
Yingde black tea & Brillat-Savarin
🍵The dried leaves with golden tips were beautiful. They also smelled like fresh mushrooms. After tasting it, all I could think of was PETRICHOR. A nice Sunday afternoon walk through the forest in late October, when you have to watch your footsteps or you'd skid over a wet fallen leaf. With a dark chocolate bar in your pocket for a quick snack. The liquor was pleasantly acidic, mineral and had a woody, chocolatey, malty presence. I think I oversteeped it the first time though, because when I reached the bottom of the teapot it was way too bitter and tannic.
🧀Paired with the Brillat-Savarin: ah, yes, my favorite cheese. A triple cream cheese, the "foie gras" of the cheese world. Fun story: as I was drinking this Yingde black tea, I instinctively wanted to add a creamer to it. When I asked the cheesemonger for a recommendation, I didn't want to influence her choice and only told her that this black tea tasted very mineral, mushrooms and petrichor. Deep down, I was hoping so much she'd recommend the Brillat-Savarin (try it if you can, the texture and taste will be carved in your memory), so, when she did, I cheered with joy! The mineral flavors of the tea enhanced the lacteal creaminess of this already super creamy cheese. The rind tasted like mushrooms so it had a nice dialogue with the woody side of this tea. And once more, the cheese made the flowery scent more palpable and softened the back tea's maltiness.
Lapsang Souchong & Bonde de Gatine
🍵I don't enjoy Lapsang Souchongs as they remind me of herbal medicine so I hoped this unsmoked version would suit me better. It still was too powerful to my taste. The tea had a very heady wood profile, felt sweet and had almost no astringency. At first, it vividly evoked me grapes or lychees, then this aroma mellowed down and turned into honey. It had a pleasant light bitterness but the more I drank, the less I could handle the heady perfume.
🧀Paired with the Bonde de Gatine: as much as I didn't want to influence the cheesemonger's choice in the previous pairing, I asked for a strong salty cheese to mask the heady aroma of the Lapsang Souchong. She obliged by selecting this dry goat cheese. The combination worked wonders: the goatish flavors took over the pine notes. Maybe a bit too much but it allowed for the honey notes to come out at full force! It was like a goat frolicking in a bees farm!
All in all, it was a very exciting, satisfying experience and I was delighted to combine two of my cultures in this tasting atelier. The teas enhanced the creaminess and milky flavors of the cheeses, while the cheeses highlighted the vegetal profiles of the teas. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts as much I enjoyed discovering the teas and cheeses!
Thanks again to iTeaworld for enriching my tea journey!