Match of the week | Guineafowl and Oolong tea

Match of the week

Guineafowl and Oolong tea

Chinese meals apart it’s not often I get to match tea with savoury dishes but importer Lalani’s tea pairing lunch at Gauthier, Soho this week showed just how exciting the combination can be

It certainly helped that I’d come hotfoot from a wine tasting when the last thing I wanted to taste or drink was more wine but it seems I’m not alone in fancying something soft. According to James Lewis of Gauthier 50-60% of their clientele don’t drink alcohol at lunchtime.

Lalani specialises in small batch limited edition teas such as the Jade Mountain ‘The Honey Special’ Oolong from Taiwan the team paired with a deeply savoury dish of guinea fowl with turnips and a dark green swiss chard compote. (The Oolong was served lukewarm rather than piping hot and in Riedel ‘O’ wine glasses.)

It was intense enough to stand up to the guineafowl and its accompanying ‘spiced fowl jus’ (I think they might have found a better name for that) but the pairing also benefited from the slightly bitter notes in the turnip and the chard. It was also flavoured with fresh thyme which chimed in particularly well with the fragrance of the tea.

Jameel Lalani who was hosting the lunch said the key thing to bear in mind when matching food and tea was to make sure the tea and the dish are of a similar weight - not always easy given the delicacy of many fine teas. I thought the grassy 1st flush sencha for example that accompanied the first course of an intensely umami summer truffle risotto with more chicken jus struggled a bit (a spring vegetable risotto would have been more sympathetic) but this pairing was pitch perfect.

I attended the lunch as a guest of Lalani tea.

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