Before you attend an afternoon tea or organize one yourself, you should know what teas go well with an afternoon tea menu. Choosing the right type of tea can lead to an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon with friends. High tea and afternoon tea have very different origins that should be noted.
Tea with Dessert: Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey is probably the most known black tea blend in the world. It’s known for its sweet citrusy flavor which comes from the essential oil of bergamot. The sweetness of earl grey tea is best paired with afternoon tea sweets.
Tea with Fruity Desserts: Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is a caffeine-free herbal tea, that is often used to help people get better sleep. It’s popular in afternoon tea parties because of its apple-like flavor, which can be a great pairing with scones and fruity sweets.
Tea for Caffeine-Free Guests: Mint Tea
Peppermint tea is the most common mint tea in the U.S., and if you can find one made with pure mint leaves (not mixed with other tea leaves), then it is 100% caffeine free. People also use spearmint for a sweeter mint flavor. Both mint teas pair great with finger sandwiches, chocolates and fruity sweets.
Tea for Relaxation: Lavender Tea
Lavender is common in afternoon tea parties, often used to flavor scones and other baked goods. Its sweet and perfumed flavor pairs well with scones, cream and cookies. Lavender tea can have different variations which include a mixture of chamomile and mint.
Tea with Light Flavors: White Tea
White tea is a naturally sweet concoction. Its name is derived from the white hairs of unopened buds of the tea plant. It has a silky and subtle flavor and is poorly paired with anything too strong. White tea is best paired with light-flavored foods like scones and sponge cakes.
Tea with Fresh Fruit: Green Tea
Green tea has a vegetative flavor to it. Green teas with fruity notes, which have a sweeter flavor, work really well when paired with fruit salads or fruit-filled pastries and scones.
Tea with All Snacks: Oolong Tea
Grown in Southeast Asia, oolong tea contains a complex flavor that makes it compatible with many afternoon tea foods. It’s great to drink when you want to try out different foods throughout tea time, because its tasting notes will pair with most tea snacks.
There are different types of oolongs based on where they come from. Lighter oolongs have a fragrant aroma that’s best paired with salty flavored snacks. They’re mostly grown in Indonesia.
The darker oolong which grows in Taiwan has a smooth flavored taste and aroma that is paired with stronger foods like a salami finger sandwich or smoked ham.
Tea that Varies Based on the Season: Darjeeling Black Tea
Darjeeling black tea originates from Darjeeling, India, and its flavor depends on the season in which it’s harvested. Spring-plucked Darjeeling has more of a leafy flavor, while summer-plucked has more of a fruity flavor. They’re both paired well with savory afternoon tea foods such as chocolate, fruity desserts, and pastries.