Friday, August 30, 2013

Tea and Cheese and Passions

One of my favorite experiences is to be around people who have imersed themselves in their passions and then share that with others. The topic hardly matters; being with someone who knows and loves the topic is a joy.  When that topic of passion corresponds with mine, well then it's super!  Just like last weekend...

I had the good fortune to attend (with Marmalady) a cheese and tea pairing, hosted by two local experts.  Steven Smith and Steve Jones.  Smith is prominent in the tea scene, having been part of the birth of both Stash and Tazo brands, and now runs his own tea company. Jones is not only a skilled and thoughtful cheese seller, but also a national cheesemonger champ.  The two Steves decided to join up to share their knowledge and passions.
The pairings were carefully selected, the idea to bring out the best in both the tea and the cheese.  We enjoyed, starting at noon and working clockwise on the plate:

1:  Tea - White Petal (No 71), a white tea with chamomile, osmanthus, pear and apple infusions (for citrus) and lightly sweetened, from the Ready-to-Drink (RTD) bottled line, served cold; Cheese - A goat's milk gouda, aged 6 months
2:  Tea - Lord Bergamot (Smith's take on Earl Grey and his #1 selling tea); Cheese - an earthy Montgomery English cheddar
3: Tisane - Red Nectar (rooibos and honeybush); Cheese - Gruyere de Savoie, a French cheese, lightly creamy and nutty
4: Tisane - Big Hibiscus; Cheese - Aged (2 years) cow's milk gouda with a nice crunch due to caseins that crystallize in the aging process
5: Tea - Brahmin (a blend of Assam, and two Ceylon teas); Cheese - Lightly smoked sheep's cheese from basque Spain (Idiazabal)

The pairings exceeded my expectations!  I didn't know if I would find tea with enough acidic "bite" (thinking of wine) to go well with the cheeses. Wow - some of them had just that and the others showcased the cheese's creaminess. 

I learned a lot, too.  For example, these designations relate to cheese: 
Farmstead:  The milker is the maker, cheese made at the farm where the animal is milked
Artisanal:  Hand made cheeses, small batches (this has an actual meaning in the cheese world, vs. a marketing label)
Coop:  Pooled milk from a region, 1 great cheese maker

Have you ever enjoyed a cheese and tea pairing?  What pairings would you like to try? 


marthae said...

So glad that you and Marmalady were able to attend this event. I appreciate you’re explaining each cheese and tea pairing. I’ve become very fond of aged gouda and will look forward to trying similar teas that you mentioned with them. It’s nice to learn that Artisanal actually has meaning in the cheese world vs marketing too. Thanks for sharing this fun and informational event.

Marilyn said...

It was pure delight to attend the cheese and tea pairing with you. Thanks for improving on my notes and going a step further. Yes, it is a passion well illustrated with the two Steve's.

Rosemary said...

It was fun to read your thoughts about this very special event! You and Marilyn are so fortunate to live in a 'tea-rich' environment!