Final Tea & Cheese Pairing for 2012

 On 17 December we held the final tea and cheese pairing workshop for 2012.

We’ve held workshops throughout 2012 with Rebecca Rozencwajg, a trained cheese maker and someone who is equally passionate about education in cheese as we are about education in tea.

And we’ve certainly had some fun during the year, and have enjoyed the enthusiasm and passion from the many keen participants who’ve joined us.

Last week, the focus was on Australian cheeses and here’s how we did it:

Jasmine Pearls (Yunnan, China) & Black Silk Goat Cheese (Sutton Grange, Victoria)

Many people will be familiar with jasmine scented tea as this is the tea we’re commonly served Yum Cha restaurants. We don’t typically choose scented teas for tastings, as we like to showcase the complexity and flavour that can be achieved with just the natural leaf. But not only is this organic tea from Yunnan a particularly good example of jasmine tea, it was a great match for the Black Silk Goat cheese.

The Black Silk was quite delicate for a goat cheese – very light, and milky, fresh tasting with a slight acidity that is characteristic of this type of cheese. We found the Jasmine Pearls to be a nice complement in that it’s also light and delicate, but  then has a sweetness that contrasted with the acidity, and actually bought out a sweetness in the cheese.

Yunnan White (Yunnan, China) (& also Jin Xuan, Alishan Taiwan) and Prom Picnic Sheep Cheese (Red Hill, Victoria)

We found that both the Yunnan White and the Alishan Jin Xuan were great matches with the Prom Picnic Sheep, so we tasted both.

The Yunnan White is the Yunnanese version of the classic Pai Mu Tan, which traditionally comes from Fujian Province in China. This is a white tea that includes not only the bud but also some leaves, so the flavour is fuller than other white teas like silver needles, which use the bud only.  The Yunnan White is fruitier than the classic version, and perhaps a little more full bodied.

The Jin Xuan is an oolong tea is also known as Milk Oolong or Oolong #27. This tea is a light Taiwanese oolong, made from a cultivar (#27) that produces a naturally milky or creamy flavour.

It was interesting how each of the teas brought out the fruity (slightly sharp) and milky aspects respectively of the Prom Picnic. 

Honey Oolong (Miao Li, Taiwan) & Bay of Martyrs blue (Cooriemungle, Victoria)

The Honey Oolong, like the famous Oriental Beauty, is a leaf bitten tea from the north west of Taiwan. These teas rely on leaf hoppers to feed on the new leaf growth, which creates some kind of magic when the tea is processed, giving it a distinct (and natural) honey flavour.  

The Bay of Martyrs blue (cow) cheese was quite savoury, a not bitter yet still quite strong flavoured blue. We all know that honey, like fig jam and other sweet things, contrasts beautifully with blue cheese and the Honey Oolong certainly stepped up to the plate, so to speak.

We’ve matched sweetness with blue cheese in the past quite well (Gorgonzola Dolce with Alishan Green) but the Bay of Martyrs demanded something more robust, which the Honey Oolong delivered.

High Mountain  Black (Yunnan, China) & Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar (Pyengana, Tasmania)

The High Mountain Black tea is grown at around 2000 metres in a famous tea growing area of Simao, also in Yunnan, China. It is a delightfully light black tea, quite fruity, and reminiscent of a light red wine or rose.

The makers of Pyengana Cheddar specialise in clothbound cheddar, and do it very well. It is made with the traditional cheddaring process and is one of the oldest specialist cheeses in Australia. This is a full flavoured cheese, with a slight honey note. The High Mountain Black with the Pyengana Cheddar was the classic ‘wine and cheese’ match.

In fact this may have been the winning match of the evening, with the Honey Oolong and Bay of Martyrs Blue a very close second.

We’re already looking forward to some more great workshops with more of the lovely and enthusiastic participants in 2013! If you’d like to be notified of when they’re coming up, just sign up to the Mailing List via the website.