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Tea and Cheeses from Switzerland

While cheese is traditionally enjoyed with wine, more and more gourmets are learning about pairing cheese with tea. Surprised by this union between East and West?

Tea: Globalization ahead of its time!

Tea was born in China, as you can imagine. It was originally consumed for its medicinal properties. But it was quickly sought after for its taste and became a pleasure drink. In the 8th century CE, it was the drink of the Tang Dynasty course. The tea leaves were then pressed into molds and dried over a fire. They were then boiled to prepare the drink. The fashion was then imitated by the Japanese, the Tartars, the Turks and the Tibetan nomads. While tea lost its popularity under Mongol occupation, it once again became the Chinese favorite drink in the 17th century, under the leadership of the Ming dynasty. The tea, green or black, was then brewed.

It was not until the 17th century that tea leaves arrived on the European continent, first in Holland, imported by the Dutch East India Company, which retained the monopoly until the end of the 1660s. C This is the time when England entrusted the East India Company with the tea trade with China. Extraordinary success: consumption went from 65 kg in 1699 to 2 million kg in 1769! The road to tea was very long. From their home province, crates full of tea traveled to the port of Canton (the only city allowed to receive foreigners), before being loaded onto Western ships.

In the 19th century the trade is modernized. If London remains the leading consumer city in the West, it soon faces competition from Moscow and New York. Tall ships ("clippers"), originally chartered for the opium trade, are used for tea. At the same time, tea cultures are developing elsewhere than in China. They appear in India, Malaysia, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), but also in Guyana, Martinique and on the flanks of the Himalayas). Today it is possible to find plantations in Africa, Oceania (Australia, Papua and New Guinea) and even America (Argentina and Brazil).

The different Teas

The tea comes in 5 colors: white, green, blue, red and black. It's all about oxidation. Oxidation is a natural process in the aging of plants. The leaves, when deprived of water in contact with the air, dry out and, under the action of enzymes contained in the leaves, change color, gradually turning from green to brown. They also change taste.

So, white tea is naturally slightly oxidized, green tea is not at all. Both are subtle and light and can be consumed all day. Black teas (fermented) come in three categories: oolong or semi-fermented (or blue tea), fermented black (Ceylon, Darjeeling) and smoked (Lapsang souchong). Among the most consumed in the West, they are characterized by their more intense aromas. Red tea is a fake tea, called Roïbos, because it does not come from the tea plant, but from a South African plant, however its method of preparation and its use are similar to those of tea. Devoid of caffeine and tannin, this drink has no bitterness and can be drunk all day.

Tasting advice

It is essential to choose teas with straightforward flavors, not flavored, which are called original teas. It is preferable that the tea is lukewarm at the time of tasting, and especially not hot, in order to feel its aromatic notes without lulling the palate. Warm tea slightly melts the cheese, makes it softer and reveals its flavors, but it is possible to adjust the temperature of the tea (cold, lukewarm or hot) to create contrasts or, on the contrary, to harmonize with the cheese.

Tea pairing ideas with Cheeses from Switzerland

  • Warm Chinese green tea and Tomme Vaudoise. To be drunk lukewarm with Tomme Vaudoise slightly warmed in the oven, a delicious marriage between the smoothness of green tea and the sweetness of Tomme Vaudoise.
  • Green tea from Japan and Gruyère d’Alpage AOP. Tea to be consumed at room temperature, its vegetal and tangy notes harmoniously accompany a Swiss Alpage Gruyère AOP.
  • White tea, and Appenzeller®. Tea to be drunk lukewarm, its floral notes bring sweetness to the aromatic flavor of Appenzeller® cheese, an alliance of subtlety.
  • Red tea from China and Sbrinz AOP. Tea to be drunk very hot, a harmonious accord between the woody smokiness of tea and the dense texture and the fruity flavor of Sbrinz AOP.
  • Black tea from China and Swiss Grottes PDO Emmentaler. Tea to be drunk lukewarm, the undergrowth flavor of tea and its intense aromas blend perfectly with the power of Swiss Grotte Emmentaler PDO.
  • Blue tea or Oolong from Taiwan and Fondue Moitiè-Moitié (Swiss Gruyère AOP and Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP). Tea flavored with honey and undergrowth to be consumed at room temperature. An ideal combination with the creamy and light smoothness of the Half-Half Fondue.

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