Curious about what foods pair well with tea? You’re in the right place.
While most people think of wine as the ultimate food-pairing beverage, tea has plenty to offer, too. Its subtleties, complexities, and signature flavors can make whatever you’re eating even better.
Plus, the sheer variety and amount of flavors makes it the perfect beverage for pairing with just about any food, from arugula to zeppoles and just about everywhere in between.
Ready to take a flavor journey? Here’s a comprehensive flavor pairing guide to Big Heart Tea’s Signature Line — as well as a few choice teas from our collection that lend themselves to interesting food pairings (cheese + tea pairing, anyone?).
But before we get pairin’, a few basics…
Basic Pairing Tips + Best Practices
Let’s start with a little tea + food pairing 101…
Contrast or Complement
There are two key approaches to pairing. One is to choose a flavor that is similar to the tea in question (ex: Spicy Pumpkin tea with our Spicy Pumpkin Tea Bread).
The second is to choose a flavor that contrasts the tea in question. For instance, our Chai has a natural sweetness that acts as a pleasing counterpart to savory fried snacks — if you’ve never had Chai and a samosa, you’ve been missing out.
Follow Your Instinct
Go with your gut! Often, if a combo sounds good in your mind, it will be IRL. If a pairing sounds iffy, it could surprise you — or it could be just as underwhelming as it sounds in your mind.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Related to the last point, sometimes the best discoveries are happened-upon by accident or experimentation.
For instance, the very idea of peanut butter paired with jelly might have sounded crazy in theory — but then some genius tried it and here we are. Don’t be afraid to experiment! The worst that can happen is a pairing might taste a little weird and you move on. Then again, you might just discover a new flavor-pairing masterpiece!
Brew Per Instructions
Don’t let a poor pairing be the result of improper brewing! Be sure to brew tea per the package instructions for the best results.
Flavor pairings are a little science maybe, but mostly art. And beauty is in the eye — or taster — of the beholder. Don’t be afraid to have fun. Try green tea with five different cheeses to see which one you like best, or sample a slice of cake with different types of tea to see what you prefer.
The Ultimate Guide to BHT Flavor Pairings
Ready to start pairing Big Heart Tea’s offerings with some tasty food? Here’s a primer with pairing suggestions for each of our Signature Line, plus a few of our other offerings that taste exceptional with food.
Big Heart Breakfast
Tasting notes: Robust and malty Assam is countered with a touch of bright citrus and subtle rose for a bold, complex flavor that loves morning hangs.
Pairing suggestions: As the name implies, Big Heart Breakfast is a natural pairing with any and every little one of your favorite breakfast foods. Its sturdy flavor is strong enough to stand up to dishes like Eggs Benedict or a Denver omelet, but it’s just as nice served with milk and sugar alongside breakfast pastries like muffins or scones.
Tasting notes: This tea turns up the volume on the naturally bright, bold flavor of organic hibiscus with a supporting cast of organic lemongrass and organic tulsi. The finished product is sweet, tart, citrusy, and ready and willing to give you a nice, natural, non-caffeinated kick.
Pairing suggestions: To start, Blushing pairs well with a lot of other drinks — as we advertise on our packaging, “add some honey, and your kids will think it's fruit punch!”. But it’s also delicious with sparkling wine, in cocktails, or it can be used to make Agua de Jamaica, a spicy drink with ginger and mint.
In terms of food pairings, Blushing is a great complement to the mellow sweetness of foods with honey — try it with baklava or a honey bun and enjoy the buzz. But don’t stop there! Its bright, citrusy flavor also makes it a great companion to savory comfort foods (kind of like how cranberry sauce helps “cut” through the richness of Thanksgiving turkey). Take a walk on the wild side and try it with some fried chicken!
Calm Yo’ Tummy
Tasting notes: Calm and soothing is the name of the game here — organic tulsi, organic lavender, organic fennel seed, organic brahmi have a balanced combination that provides sweet and savory tastes that give you a peaceful, easy feeling.
Pairing suggestions: Gentle, easy-to-digest and slightly sweet foods provide a pleasing complement to Calm Yo’ Tummy — think graham crackers, fruit, shortbread cookies, or trail mix.
Tasting notes: Big Heart Tea’s Chai is made with an action-packed melange of organic tulsi, organic red rooibos, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic star anise, organic peppercorn, organic allspice for a sweet yet fiery teatime sensation that’s perfect for chilling out and staying cozy.
Pairing suggestions: Chai is an amiable sort of beverage that pairs well with a variety of different foods. Sweets are a natural pairing — chai is often used in baked goods (for instance, Chai Pumpkin Pie or Spiced Chai Bundt Cake) and tend to taste good with baked goods of all sorts. But don’t stop there. The spiciness is actually a respectable counterpart to full-bodied or even spicy foods — think Indian (samosas + Chai FTW!) or Thai cuisine.
Tasting notes: Chamomile Mint combines flowery, calming organic chamomile tea with organic mint, with just a little zip from organic lemongrass. The combo is cozy and calming yet uplifting — and it tastes just as good hot as it does as an iced tea.
Pairing suggestions: Citrus, ginger, and honey are all flavors that pair well with Chamomile Mint. Any of those flavors can be added to the tea to amp up the flavor of the tea; or, try it with foods like gingersnap cookies, lemon bars, shortbread with citrus zest, or toast with butter and honey.
Cup of Love
Tasting notes: Cup of Love may contain rose, but it’s anything but perfume-y. It has a lovely, subtle flavor that’s complemented with organic tulsi, rounding it out with a sweet spiciness. If a warm hug had a flavor, this would be it.
Pairing suggestions: Dark chocolate tastes like true love when paired with this tea, but it’s also a great pair with any confections like caramel and Turkish Delight, pastries made with rosewater, and fresh fruit.
Cup of Sunshine
Tasting notes: Cup of Sunshine is our flagship brew featuring organic turmeric, organic ginger, organic Malabar peppercorn, and organic cinnamon. We like to say it’s “basically liquid yoga” — mellow, but with a little inner heat and plenty of good vibes.
Pairing suggestions: Anything milky (dairy or non-dairy) or coconut-y loves this tea: coconut macaroons, milk bread, porridge with milk, tres leches cake … Heck, even cottage cheese with honey (if you’re into such things). It’s also a delicious accompaniment to our Sunshine Dust cookies.
Note: Need more sunshine? Sunshine Dust is a powder modeled after our flagship tea, Cup of Sunshine, and has a like-minded mellow-but-kissed-with-spice flavor. It’s ideal for making golden milk and lattes, and it’s a killer addition to smoothies like our Mango Sunshine (Turmeric) Smoothie.
Tasting notes: As our Edith Grey packaging reads, “this is an Earl Grey made for romantics.” Single-origin black tea, hand-picked from the Satemwa family tea estate in the Shire Highlands of Malawi, is complemented by organic rose and organic bergamot oil for a fragrant, strong, yet surprisingly delicate tea.
Pairing suggestions: This is an afternoon tea favorite, and pairs well with all of the traditional high tea fare: think scones with clotted cream, delicate cookies, and finger sandwiches. But it’s also a delight as a milky morning tea with a pastry. The bergamot and rose also work beautifully with tart, fresh fruit — it’s a dream with a rhubarb crumble or lemon-poppyseed cake.
Tasting notes: It looks and feels like coffee, but it’s actually tea! Featuring a melange of organic cacao, organic roasted chicory, organic dandelion root, and organic sweet cinnamon, Fake Coffee tastes like an herbaceous, chocolatey tea dream come true. But don’t take our word for it — give it a try and see for yourself why Buzzfeed called it “life-changing”!
Pairing suggestions: Pair it with anything you’d normally eat alongside coffee — breakfast foods both sweet and savory, baked goods, or desserts. One extra-special pairing? Beignets, those powdered-sugar-coated doughnuts that you often see served with chicory coffee in New Orleans. Paired with Fake Coffee, you can conjure up your own little Fake New Orleans!
Tasting notes: Tulsi, AKA Holy Basil, is the primary herb base in Big Heart Tea’s collection of herbal teas. We source our Happy Tulsi from Oshala Farm, a regenerative family farm in Jackson County, Oregon. It has a pleasing, unique flavor with a semi-sweet flavor and a touch of spiciness that has echoes of mint, clove, and anise.
Pairing suggestions: While the flavor of Happy Tulsi is singular, it actually pairs well with a variety of different foods. It’s a natural pairing with anything containing Holy Basil, which has slowly but surely been gaining more popularity in the culinary realm. But really, it has range — it can just as easily add a little intrigue to a bagel with cream cheese in the morning as it can add some depth of flavor to earthy stews and soups.
Malawi Roasted Green
Tasting notes: This is no ordinary green tea! Our Malawi Roasted Green is 100% single origin green tea grown in Satemwa Tea Estate in Malawi, Africa. It’s smoother than many green teas, with a soft texture and a slightly nutty flavor that has notes of chestnuts, fresh greens, and roasted vegetables.
Pairing suggestions: The slightly nutty flavor of this tea makes it a fantastic complement to cheese — try your own little tasting with fresh goat cheese, brie, or any semi-soft cheese that you love. Its clean flavor also works beautifully with roasted vegetables or crisp greens like arugula.
Tasting notes: Our Matcha powder, which comes from the third-generation Sugimoto family farm in Shizuoka, Japan. It’s a delight to behold as well as to drink, with a flavor that’s rich, smooth, and delicate. But you can also feel good knowing that it’s 100% organic traceable, real matcha (not "green tea powder") from the sustainable tea forests of Shizuoka.
Pairing suggestions: This glowing green bev makes for a fine matcha — er, match — with mochi, those adorable little mounds of sweetness made of rice flour. But it’s generally pleasant with anything sweet that doesn’t have too powerful of a flavor. Try it solo or as a Dalgona Matcha Latte and pair it with marzipan, high-quality white chocolate truffles, shortbread, or heck, why not make yourself some Matcha Cheesecake?
Tasting notes: Our Royal Treatmint combines two types of relaxing mint (organic spearmint, organic peppermint) with a supporting cast of organic lavender, organic tulsi, organic ginkgo leaf to make a smooth sipper that will help balance your mind and body.
Pairing suggestions: Many people think of mint tea and think of pairing it with something sweet. Well, that’s not wrong. It tastes great with chocolate or even a peppermint patty, and it’s a great combo to other flavors that work well with mint, from lemon bars to shortbread to pound cake. But it can also tastes wonderful with savory dishes. It’s particularly nice with Middle Eastern specialties, including but not limited to couscous, falafel, and grilled leg of lamb.
Tasting notes: Made with organic cinnamon, organic clove, organic ginger, organic allspice, black tea, our Spicy Pumpkin is a sturdy spicy tea that is great on its own, or nice to fancy up with milk into a tea-based PSL.
Pairing suggestions: The obvious choice is pumpkin spice sweets, right? Spicy Pumpkin paired with pumpkin spice sweets is pure fall bliss, whether you’re sipping alongside a slice of Spicy Pumpkin Tea Bread or enjoying it with pumpkin-flavored goodies from your favorite local bakery (in St. Louis, it’s gotta be from Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop). However, the spices and black tea can also stand up to savory dishes, too. Why not experiment with pairing this tea with breakfast or brunch, or enjoying it with some pumpkin soup?
We Make a Great Pair
Tea isn’t just for pairing with scones! As you can see from this comprehensive flavor pairing guide, tea is an all-day beverage that can be paired with just about any meal or snack.
Armed with this guide, it’s your turn to get curious and start trying different pairings that appeal to you! Be sure to stock up on your favorite tea to make food taste better (and, you know, to have). Grab a Big Heart Tea Signature Line sample set here.
What’s your favorite food-and-tea-pairing? Did anything here surprise you? Leave a comment and tell us every little thing you’re thinking!