25 February 2011

Tea & cheese? Why wine lovers are missing out...

While studying tea in New York, I became friendly with the owners of a great tea shop in SoHo called In Pursuit of Tea. And besides having an amazing selection of high quality teas, they also host some pretty unique tea events. I recently went to a tea and cheese tasting – YES, tea and cheese! And I was astounded at how much better the tea brought out the flavour in the cheese than a glass of wine.

The evening included six tea and cheese pairings, hand selected by Melanie Franks, Chef Instructor at New York’s French Culinary Institute. The pairing of a fragrant White Peony from China or Dong Ding Oolong from Taiwan highlighted the sweetness and pineapple sub-notes of what would otherwise be some pretty salty cheese. And a beautifully mellow Pu-erh from Yunnan China paired with a Vaquero Blue cheese (normally so hard to pair with a wine) made the cheese melt like butter in my mouth. So why is cheese a better mate? Melanie explained that the acidity in wine doesn’t have the same ability to cut through the ‘fatty taste notes’ like tea does. I can attest to that!

Tips for pairing tea and cheese:

  • Try to balance sweet and salty flavours, for example a floral tea goes well with a salty cheese

  • Always try to match the ‘sub-notes’ in the cheese – you want the tea to bring out new flavours in the cheese, not just replicate the same taste

  • Cut the ‘fattiness’ with a tea to bring out a cheese’s sweeter notes, for example the Japanese Sencha tea complimented a creamy Adith Mae Chevre goats’ milk cheese nicely

03 February 2011

Green tea, Hollywood's secret weight loss weapon

Is one of Hollywood's biggest stars flattening his abs for some steamy scenes? My most recent celebriTEA sighting is Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp, who is reportedly on a green tea diet to lose weight for an upcoming film role in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. Why green tea? A recent study by the American Society of Nutrition published in 2009 suggests that adding green tea to your diet will aid in weight loss when combined with moderate exercise. Published in the Journal of Nutrition, the study suggests that the catechins, a chemical compund found in green tea, can aid in exercise-reduced loss of adominal fat. Definitely food for thought for anyone heading to the beach in Sydney's intense heatwave! In addition to reports of aiding weight loss, green tea has also been found to aid in cancer and diabetes prevention.

For a full download of the study visit http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/2/264.short