While many South Africans are familiar with the basics of wine pairing i.e. white wine goes with fish and red wine with steak, they are stumped when it comes to what to pair their tea with.
Tea sommelier, Jessica Bonin, shares some tasting notes that help demonstrate the range and depth of some of South African’s local Rooibos infusions that have recently exploded onto the scene.
“Pairing tea with food allows one to experience enhanced flavours through the complementary elements of various ingredients. It presents your palette with a new depth of taste brought about by a specific tea,” she says.
Here are a few of her suggested tea pairings:
Rooibos and Chamomile
Rooibos & Chamomile has a woody, creamy and peachy taste with honey-floral undertones, which complements anything fruity or sweet, such as scones or shortbread, while the earthy flavour of Green Rooibos complements savoury sandwiches and meat dishes, such as roast lamb or beef.
Rooibos & Ginger and Rooibos & Vanilla
The mellow and tangy mouthfeel of Rooibos & Ginger adds balance to curry or spicy foods, whereas Rooibos & Vanilla pairs beautifully with sponge cakes, custard and sweet tarts.
Rooibos & Cinnamon and Rooibos & Buchu
The velvety, dusty sweetness of Rooibos & Cinnamon makes it ideal at breakfast time with croissants or scones, while the mildly astringent taste of Rooibos & Buchu matches well with fruit, such as peaches, apples, citrus, prunes, blackcurrant, pineapple and meat dishes. It also goes well with heavy meals.
Rooibos & Mint and Rooibos Chai
Rooibos & Mint is a palate cleanser and acts as a digestive. It is drunk after heavy and rich meals or in-between courses. The bold flavours and rich aroma of Rooibos Chai makes it ideal with anything chocolaty – think dark chocolate, chocolate mousse, chocolate fondant and even works well in meat marinades. It’s also delicious with Brie spread on a toasted baguette.
Rooibos & Lemon and Rooibos & Berry
Rooibos & Lemon adds a slightly astringent note with a crisp aftertaste that complements honey and ginger, while the luscious syrupy and juicy taste of Rooibos & Berry is always a winner with figs, lavender and even gin!
Rooibos & Rosehip
The refreshing taste of Rooibos & Rosehip makes it an ideal afternoon refresher with salads and savoury snacks.
According to Jessica, Rooibos has an incredibly versatile flavour that makes it the perfect base for an array of ingredients. Tea enthusiasts can experiment by adding herbs, fruits, flowers and even spices. The flavour cascades are infinite.