How to choose tea for a beer-drinker

Mugicha, or roasted barley tisane. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Despite what many American beer fans think, it is entirely possible for a beer-drinker to find a tea that is enjoyable, and not have to drink from a girly teacup to do it! Real men really do drink tea and so do plenty of strong women.  If you are a beer fan who would like to try some tea but doesn’t know where to start, let’s try to find you a tea that you’ll like. First things first: don’t be intimidated. Take a deep breath and get out your manliest mug, if it helps.

To find some teas that a beer-drinker might like, first we should think about beer’s basic ingredients, malt, hops, yeast and water. These combine to produce the characteristic flavors of beer: malty toastiness, caramel-like sweetness, nuttiness, chocolate nuances, bitterness, citrus-like fruitiness, and savory, robust flavor. Guess what? Those flavors exist in tea!

First on the list of recommended teas for American beer-drinkers, should be the teas that have been popular in places where both tea and beer are widely consumed, like the U.K. and Canada.  First of these would be Assam tea, which is an Indian tea known for a malty flavor, and is part of English and Irish Breakfast tea blends. Assam might also appeal to a fan of American lagers, like Miller. Keemun is a Chinese black tea that is also in English and Irish Breakfast tea blends, and is known for wine-like and fruity nuances. If you tend to like bitter beers, then you might prefer a Darjeeling tea, since it is characterized by a pleasant astringency or bitterness. If you like to eat a lot of greasy fried foods with your beer, then a pu-erh tea might be better for you, since it is supposed to wash the fat from your food out of your digestive system. The Manly Tea List recommends gunpowder green tea, which is both tasty and has “gun” in its name; what’s not to like? Japanese mugicha, or roasted barley tea, is a tisane which might appeal because of its similar flavor profile to some lighter beers. It is also considered a cooling summer beverage. Lastly, if you like a dark ale that features a roasted flavor, you might like a green tea like hojicha, which is roasted over coals, or genmaicha, which contains toasted rice grains.  If you want to keep the alcoholic component, try kombucha, which is a beverage made from fermented black tea.

Since tea and beer feature some similar flavors, it has occured to some people to mix the two! There is a new product called “green tea beer” that just entered the specialty beverage market. Check your local BevMo and see if they carry it or can order it for you, if you want to try it. While I’m not going to rush out and buy some, I am intrigued enough by the idea to be willing to try green tea beer if I found a bottle of it! However, I have a feeling that, while tea can be successfully mixed with various other alcoholic beverages, tea and beer would compete, rather than complement each other, if used in the same recipe. However, just because beer and tea don’t necessarily belong in the same glass, there is no reason why a beer fan can’t drink and enjoy a good cup or glass of tea! As a plus, the antioxidants in tea can help restore the body after drinking too much beer …

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

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Filed under Health, Tea Tasting, Tips

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