Green Tea and Goat Cheese
In late March, I went to an unusual tea party. The hostess served grassy tea with — no, not scones or cake — cheese. Two beautiful goat cheeses, alongside a quartet of glorious green teas. The event was billed as a green tea class, taught by my friend Alexis of Teaspoons and Petals, but it felt more like a goat-cheese-and-green-tea deb ball. Alexis debuted some truly amazing pairings, and I am still seeing chartreuse.
Alexis feels about tea the way I feel about cheese: she sees stars when she tastes something dreamy. As we were munching raw leaves of Hojicha to understand its roasty notes, she said, “I love hojicha with any cheese because the pairing mimics a latte.” Of course!
Here was the tea menu:
Shizuoka Sencha: This light, fresh whole leaf tea from southern Japan smelled like freshly steamed asparagus. On the palate, it was grassy, very subtle. The color reminded me of Kermit the Frog. Alexis paired it with a mushroomy wedge of Nocetta di Capra, a bloomy beauty with a trace of vanilla. Eaten together, Sencha and Nocetta made Shangri La.
Genmaicha: Toasted brown rice adds a warm dimension to this late-harvest Sencha that looks like twigs and snowfall (photo below). Its nutty profile didn’t work quite as well with Nocetta, but I can imagine pairing it with a nutty-sweet aged goat cheese. Perhaps Evalon or Pantaleo? The buttery notes would be complimentary, just like the rosemary shortbread Alexis served with this course.
Hojicha: Roasted over charcoal, this wildling tasted like the woods at dusk. A bite of raw tea leaf tasted buckwheaty. Alexis paired this with an Andalucian goat cheese called Montealva, which tasted earthy and nutty. I pictured acorns. The tea really brought out the sweetness of this tea.
Matcha: Vibrant green matcha is used in Japanese tea ceremonies — it tastes like fresh grass with a slightly bitter finish when you whisk it into warm water. Not everyone likes this bitter flourish, so Alexis — brilliant creature — combined it with honey, fresh orange juice, and olive oil for a dressing that she poured over a goat-cheese salad. Wasn’t I having a love affair with that? I was. Oh, and how. Look at it: like leaves and snow.
I took home samples of all these teas, and I’ve been trying them with various goat cheeses that roll through the house. Especially lovely for breakfast: a cup of Sencha or Matcha with fresh goat cheese on toast. Try a local chevre or, go wild with a wrinkly, sexy goat cheese like one of Allison Hooper’s dream bombs from Vermont. I’ve been obsessed with them lately.
Look at them — each one could pass for a mochi ball! Perfect for green tea in the afternoon.
Alexis Siemons hosted her green tea class at CultureWorks, a beautiful new co-working space in downtown Philadelphia. She teaches classes around the city. Follow her blog or stalk her on Twitter (@teaandpetals).