Summer is a great time to enjoy fruits: They're light, refreshing, full of flavor, and best of all - many of them are in season. Pairing them with teas can enhance certain flavors, and elevate the taste experience altogether. Also, if you're someone who doesn't like drinking hot tea in summer, pairing it with fresh fruit could be a game-changer!
So, here are my favorite tea & fruit (and fruity dessert) pairings this summer, which you can enjoy at home.
Summer Tea Pick: Ruby Red (Taiwanese Black Tea)
I love this tea for summer, because of its light body, cooling notes of mint and eucalyptus, yet spicy undertones. Other names you may have heard of include: Sun Moon Black, Red Jade and #18.
As a fairly complex tea, it's a difficult one to pair; but I always love a good challenge, so here we go!
A Tropical and Tangy Partner
Because Ruby's most prominent feature is its bright peppermint-like aroma, it complements other crisp and refreshing flavors, such as citrus and tart fruits. In particular, it pairs incredibly well with pineapple.
Take a bite of a fresh pineapple slice, and then sip on the Ruby. You'll find the acidity of the pineapple actually brings out the sweet and floral notes of the tea, while balancing perfectly with its herbal and spicy flavors. Plus, there is nothing more divine on a hot summer afternoon than the sweet and sour zing of pineapple coupled with the cooling sensations of Ruby. If you think of a tropical Mojito cocktail (pineapple, mint, spiced rum), we are playing around with similar flavor elements here.
In contrast, by drinking Ruby after eating a fruit that is on the sweeter side (like melon), the tea's astringency becomes more pronounced, masking its nuances (rather than highlighting them). So make sure you cut open the pineapple when it is still crisp and tart; Overripe pineapple will be too sweet and soft.
Tip: If you're in the mood for something extra refreshing, freeze the pineapple slices before consumption.
I also love this pairing because Taiwan grows a lot of pineapple itself, on its southeastern coast in Taitung county. So it represents a harmonious marriage between two local flavors. Which brings me onto my next Ruby recommendation...
For Pastry Lovers
One of my all-time favorite snacks from Taiwan is their signature pineapple cake, known as Feng Li Su 鳳梨酥 in Mandarin, or Ong Lai So in Taiwanese Hokkien. I always look forward to bringing them home from tea trips to share with my family.
These soft, buttery pastries are filled with delicious pineapple jam, made locally in Taiwan. For those who are after a more rich and hearty pairing, try this with the Ruby tea!
When it comes to pineapple cake, there are a few brands that get it right. I recommend SunnyHills. Their cakes are made from 100% caramelized pineapple, New Zealand butter, their own organic, antibiotic-free eggs, and Japanese flour. They also don't fill them with winter melon paste, as many modern bakeries do. Although pre-packaged, each batch is made from locally-grown pineapple and without preservatives, so you have to eat them within the month. It's worth the hype though, I promise! Available on Ztore.com (for Hong Kong) and Amazon (for the US).
I scream, you scream, we all scream for...
Last but not least is ice cream! In particular: Yuzu flavor. This is a citrus fruit grown in East Asia, commonly used in Japanese cuisine, and another tangy and zesty delight that pairs perfectly with Ruby Red. The creaminess of the ice cream also softens and rounds out the texture of the tea, adding another dimension to the palate.
My favorite brand for ice cream right now is the Japanese-inspired Milk Top, available in Hong Kong's CitySuper & Sogo. They have a host of unique flavors (including Yuzu), and I've been impressed with every single one so far! Showcasing the original taste of natural ingredients, each bite packs a punch.
Discovering new taste combos has been a fun challenge, and I'm excited to continue exploring. I'd love to hear what fruits or snacks you like to pair with tea.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below! ♥
Tea featured in this post: Ruby Red