The Journey of Tea

2020.08.21

Bread is the Staff of Life.|A Cultural Relationship between Tea and Food.

Bread is the Staff of Life.|A Cultural Relationship between Tea and Food.

When shared social behaviors or beliefs are found within certain areas or groups, it can be called culture.

When tea is accompanied by something to eat, it is a life pleasure. In different areas, the way various combinations are formed has created its unique tea and life culture.

-Why do we eat food when drinking tea?
Tea contains caffeine and tea polyphenols. Caffeine will accelerate metabolism and lower blood sugar, making you feel hungry and dizzy, while tea polyphenols will be combined with the gastric mucosa protein, making you feel unwell or even stomach pain. If you then have some foods, these can be eased and make you feel better.

-What kind of food is suitable with tea?
When choosing snacks to go with tea, the ability to highlight both advantages should be taken into consideration. When you choose the foods that will lower the level of savory from both, then that food may not be a good choice.

-Why do we normally have Wagashi (Japanese sweets) when drinking green tea?
Green tea is a non-fermented tea, and it is high in catechin from tea polyphenols. Japanese is also used to drinking (eating) tea leaf itself, such as Matcha. Therefore, they will eat sweet desserts before drinking green tea so their body can feel relaxed.

-Why do we have high tea when enjoying English Afternoon Tea?
In England, people used to have only breakfast and dinner, and the tea consumed were mostly Assam black tea, which contains high caffeine and tea polyphenols. If grounded black tea is consumed, the level of caffeine and tea polyphenols would be extremely high. Therefore, when having English Afternoon Tea, if people do not pair up with various foods, they would feel dizzy and way too hungry.

-What is Bak Kut The (Pork Ribs Tea)?
Bak Kut The is not tea. It means when people are having Pork Ribs Soup, they would have a pot of strong tea to go with it in order to cut the grease from the soup and feel refreshing. Therefore, when you have the Bak Kut The at their traditional places, the tea ware on the table is for you to brew the tea to cut the grease.
A bowl of heavy and greasy soup with a pot of strong tea is a sense of enjoyment.

-What foods do we pair with Taiwanese Tea?
Taiwanese tea is mild, not too strong nor too light. As a result, there are various types of foods that would go well with it, without too many restrictions, and it is only about creativity.
1. Comte French Aged Cheese: this goes well with roasted Dong-Ding oolong tea. The rich cheese flavor and its crystal salt, combining with an adequate level of astringency, will produce abundant levels in your bud taste.
2. Spanish Paella: this goes well with fresh Li-Shan oolong tea. Not only can it help to cut the grease, but also can enhance the floral aroma from the tea. The flavor of Pimenton will become unexpectedly refreshing, just like its flower in blossom.

-Should we eat when drinking expensive and fine teas?
It depends. If the people you are drinking tea with do not have this habit, only drinking tea will be good enough. However, before you drink the tea, you could have some foods. Based on the category of your tea choice, recommended snacks would be different. If you are drinking small-leaf tea (green tea and oolong tea), you can have some chocolate or milk, while for large-leaf tea (black tea and Pu'er tea), biscuits high in energy or deep-fried foods are worth trying. When the tea becomes stronger and bitter, your food choice can go greaser.
Not only will drinking alcohol make you drunk, tea drunk could also make you feel unwell.

-What else should I know when pairing tea with food?
Tea polyphenols and iron will form indissoluble compounds, which will have effects on the absorption of iron. If our body is low in iron, we should avoid having tea during our meal. Having tea after meal for at least 40 minutes is suggested. There is a study from 2014 showing that if you add some Vitamin-C in your foods, it could restrain the combination of tea polyphenols and iron. sciencedirect