Tea for the beer-drinker

Is it beer, or is it tea? Mugicha, or barley tea. Wikimedia Commons.

We all think of beer when planning our Labor Day menu, but tea?  Why not?  There are plenty of teas that pair perfectly with barbecued meat and vegetables, and beer fans can enjoy them too.  Choose some tea to serve alongside the beer at the beverage table: don’t be intimidated!  Tea doesn’t have to be all flowery and girly: after all, one of the 5 new trends in tea is emphasizing tea’s appeal to men!  Think about beer’s most 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 fruityness, 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 historically been popular in places where both tea and beer are widely consumed by the same people, like the U.K. and Canada. Assam tea, which is known for a malty flavor, is always part of English and Irish Breakfast tea blends, might also appeal to a fan of American lagers, like Miller.  Keemun is another black tea that is part of English and Irish Breakfast 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.  Then there’s 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, which includes nutty, toasted grain and slightly sweet elements.  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.

Since tea and beer feature some similar flavors, it has occured to some people to mix the two!  Some people put fruity teas into their beer (maybe a lime- or lemon-flavored tea?), and some people buy their beer with tea already in it — there are new products called “Chai Cream Ale” and “green tea beer” that just entered the specialty beverage market, and might be at some South Bay BevMo stores.  So, whether you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Dia de los Muertos, or Labor Day in San Jose, tea is a great addition to the menu.

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
San Jose Craft Beer Examiner
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?”
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Japanese tea from San Jose’s Japantown”
“Barbecue with tea for Labor Day”
“Different types of Chinese black tea available in San Jose”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“What are the different kinds of green tea available in San Jose?”
“5 new tea trends for 2011 from the World Tea Expo”
“Labor Day part two: menu and planning”
“Our new favorite duo: beer & tea” from the Sanctuary T blog
“All About Beer: Homebrewing Theory 101” by Ray Daniels
“Beer in England” Wikipedia article
“Beer in the United States” Wikipedia article
“First organic green tea beer wins award”
Here’s to Beer
“Real Men Drink Tea” by Robert K. Henderson
The Manly Teas blog
“The Manly Tea List”
“Green tea beer”
“Toshiyuki Kiuchi’s Hitachino Nest Beer”, by Jim Clarke
Twisted Tea from Hard Iced Tea
Chai Cream Ale


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Filed under History, Tea, Tea Tasting, Tips, Uncategorized

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