Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Iced tea, and the science thereof

And all we thought we knew for sure was that you NEVER add sugar to cold tea and expect it to dissolve....

Summer is coming to an end, and with it the mid-year feasting season. That means one more picnic, one more backyard barbeque, one more beach party, and one more opportunity to enjoy a great burger by choosing the right flavor of iced tea.

According to the experts at Turkey Hill Dairy – makers of the nation’s number one selling refrigerated iced tea – wine isn’t the only beverage that deserves scrutiny when pouring at your next meal. Summer feasts can also be foiled by sipping peach tea with chicken salad or green tea with barbequed ribs. Just as wine aficionados have their own set of guideleines for food and beverage interactions, so do iced tea fans.

“There may not be much summer left, but there are still plenty of opportunities to make great pairings when it comes to food and iced tea,” said Turkey Hill’s chief brewmaster, Tom Wright, who admitted the iced tea laws are a bit flexible. “Like matching wine and food, it’s not an exact science and it’s really just a matter of personal preference, but there are a few general guidelines you might want to consider with pairing iced tea with meals.”

· Choose a tea that won’t overpower the food or be overpowered by the food. “This is what’s referred to as ‘matching weights,’” said Wright. “A heavy, sweet Raspberry Tea would not go well with a light potato salad or grilled fish. Instead, balance those dishes with a zesty Lemonade or Peach Tea, with their seamless and elegant finish. For a big cheeseburger or a steak, I’d choose the full bodied Blueberry Oolong Tea, with its rich and plush fruit flavor or maybe even a more robust Decaffeinated Tea.”

· Chicken and pasta are neutral foods that pair well with most teas, but the sauces will make the difference when selecting the right beverage. Choose a richer, fuller-bodied tea like Turkey Hill’s Sweet Tea for heavy, meaty sauces. With lighter, cream-based sauces, try a drier option like Green Tea.

· With snacks, personal preference is the rule. “This is where it gets tricky,” said Wright. “There are so many variances in saltiness, sweetness and texture with most snacks that it makes choosing the right tea a little challenging. Just trust your gut and chances are you’ll be okay.”

· When in doubt, go with regular iced tea. “Turkey Hill’s standard tea is a very balanced, middle-ground beverage that seems to pair well with just about any food,” said Wright, who also suggested most diet teas, which tend to be drier and slightly less sweet, as other neutral options.

· With desserts, try a complementary or contrasting flavor and choose the rule that suits your taste buds. “Some people might prefer to balance a sweet dessert with a sweet tea, while others will contrast it with a drier tea,” said Wright. “Like a lot of match-ups, it can go either way, so it’s up to you to decide which direction suits your taste.”