Tea is for Terrior

Even though wine and tea are my two favorite drinks, I never thought about what the two had in common. Tea was certainly closer to coffee than wine, wasn’t it? So I was a little surprised to learn, while researching and writing a story on tea for Wine Enthusiast magazine, that there are so many commonalities between these two beverages.

Wine and tea are alike in many ways: growing tea bushes and grapevines in the right climates and conditions is crucial, and there’s an art to blending both for a final sublime product. Tea connoisseurs even taste tea similarly to the way wine aficionados sample wine. Both wine and tea can be variously described using many of the same terms, including “well-rounded” and “full-bodied,” and both can pair well with certain dishes while clashing with others. Like top wines, some of the finest teas even come in packages that list varietal of tea tree, harvest date, and where the leaves were grown ---- because appellation is as important in the world of tea as it is with wine. There are even “tea sommeliers” at several top class hotels like the Boston Park Plaza. 

Most surprising to me is that, according to Joshua Kaiser of Rishi Tea in Milwaukee, under some pretty precise and unpredictable conditions, tea can act as a stimulant in a similar way to alcohol. For more on this topic, including recipes, see my story in the October issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine, out now.

(Posted 09.21.09)