Tea Primer

Western Living - - FOOD & WINE - BY ALI­SON O’NEILL

Beloved the world over, the hum­ble cup of tea has evolved from its orig­i­nal medic­i­nal ori­gins in China into the com­fort­ing brew we know and love to­day. Here, four of its most fa­mil­iar types. BLACK The most com­mon tea in the West, black tea is with­ered, fer­mented and dried to pro­duce the deep am­ber-coloured drink that has be­come syn­ony­mous with teatime. This full-bod­ied tea can be com­pared to red wine: it pairs well with richly flavoured foods in­clud­ing meat, cur­ries and desserts (es­pe­cially choco­late). Think: English Break­fast, Or­ange Pekoe, Dar­jeel­ing, Earl Grey

GREEN Green tea skips the fer­men­ta­tion step to pro­duce a tea that is more del­i­cate in taste and lighter in colour. If black tea is sim­i­lar to red wine, then green tea is more like white—bet­ter suited to pair­ing with seafood and sal­ads, in ad­di­tion to unsweet­ened pas­tries like crois­sants. Think: Matcha, Sen­cha, Gun­pow­der, Maghrebi Mint, Jas­mine

HERBAL Tech­ni­cally not a tea, as it is made from an in­fu­sion of var­i­ous fruits, herbs, and/or spices (and not leaves from the tea plant), herbal tea is a caf­feine­free bev­er­age. Herbal teas can of­ten have pro­nounced flavours that may com­pete with many foods, so are best served af­ter eat­ing or with a food pair­ing in the same flavour fam­ily (e.g., blue­berry tea with a blue­ber­ry­based dessert). Think: Chamomile, Pep­per­mint, Liquorice

ROOI­BOS Rooi­bos, which de­rives its name from the red bush plant it comes from, is an­other caf­feine-free drink of­ten con­sid­ered a tea. Grown in South Africa, it un­der­goes a fer­men­ta­tion process that en­hances its flavour and pro­duces the dis­tinc­tive red­dish-brown colour it’s known for. Its nat­u­ral hint of sweet­ness pairs nicely with pas­tries, choco­late and fruit. Think: Red Bush Chai, Green Rooi­bos

Mix up a pitcher of real iced tea for the kids: steep caf­feine-free tea and sweeten with honey, then add lemon and or­ange slices or fresh berries and chill.

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