White tea - Finding food to go with it

Updated: 01 Aug 2009
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Read more on image.  Biscuits.


White tea is a relative newcomer to the Western world.  Many people believe that white tea should always be enjoyed by itself, because its delicate flavor is easily overwhelmed by other, more assertive aromas and flavors.  There are multiple varieties of white tea, however, and tea vendors have created several delicious scented and flavored white teas that have become very popular.  So, it stands to reason that if the flavor and aroma of white tea can stand up to small amounts of jasmine or peach, for example, then it can be paired with similarly delicate foods. 


Another item to keep in mind is that, like black tea, white tea displays slightly different flavors depending on the place where it is grown.  While white tea is a specialty of the Fujian province in China, according to the people at White Tea Central, “India produces a large amount of tea every year, including white tea, as do Japan and Sri Lanka."  Therefore, Indian and Ceylon white teas will taste slightly different from Chinese white teas, and will suit slightly different foods.  Most white teas have a very delicate flavor, so care should be taken in pairing them with food; light foods are ideal, like fresh fruit, although ginger is said to be a wonderful complement to white tea.  Here are some recommendations from Tea Savoir Faire and the White Tea Resource Guide:


Pai Nu Tan/White Peony: a white tea from the Fujian province of China, it is also known as “Pai Mu Tan” or “Bai Mudan,” which translates to “White Peony.” These baby tea leaves, still covered with whitish “down”, are steamed and tied into bunches which “blossom” when infused, before being dried. This tea is characterized by a sweetish flavor, and peony flower appearance when covered with hot water. Recommended food pairings include basmati rice, scallops, pasta and lavender scones.


Yin Zhen/Silver Needle: a white tea from the Fujian province of China, also known as “Yinzhen”, “China White” or “Fujian White,” this tea is made from unopened, long, tea leaf buds. It is characterized by a fresh and lightly floral flavor and aroma, and a light gold colored liquor. Recommended food pairings include turkey, fish in cream sauces, and banana bread.


Gong Mei/Tribute Eyebrow: a white tea that is processed more than the Silver Needle and White Peony teas and is therefore considered a lower grade tea. "Eyebrow" teas are named for the long, thin, crescent-shaped leaves used in production. Aged after oxidation, the Tribute Eyebrow offers a dark, full brew with a very earthy taste. It is popular in many Chinese teahouses and is sometimes served with Dim Sum; other recommended food pairings include seafood, fruit, and grilled vegetables.


Shou Meu/Noble, Long Life Eyebrow: Using a mix of naturally withered tips and upper leaves, Noble, Long Life Eyebrow tea has a stronger flavor than its other white tea cousins and its flavor is often compared to a light Oolong tea. Noble, Long Life Eyebrow is grown in the Fujian and Guangxi provinces. The leaves used in Noble, Long Life Eyebrow are plucked later than other white teas, usually in late April, May and June, and produce a tea that is much darker in color. It has a stronger bold taste than other delicate white teas. Recommended food pairings include fruit, seafood, grilled vegetables, and delicate cheeses. 


How to you like to drink your white tea?  With just a biscuit, perhaps, or something else?




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