Weekender teaches you how to find the perfect tea to match your favourite traditional or snowskin mooncakes
Tea and mooncakes is a classic combination that piques our interest each time the mid-autumn season comes around. Like pairing cheese with wine, some might be intimidated by the complexity of combinations; but we’re here to show you that it’s not rocket science.
With tips from the experts of The 1872 Clipper Tea Co, TWG tea and Goodwood Park Hotel, you’ll be a tea connoisseur in no time.
With Baked Mooncakes
Traditional baked mooncakes are a staple during the Mid-Autumn Festival and usually feature crusts baked to golden brown, with fillings that typically consist of smooth lotus seed paste, sweet bean paste and / or a variety of crunchy nuts and seeds. As such, these rich and intense flavours tend to complement stronger teas.
Rehan Amarasuriya, Director of The 1872 Clipper Tea Co, suggests pairing traditional baked mooncakes with black tea or oolong such as Alishan Oolong, Tie Guan Yin or Pu’er tou cha. He says that these teas go well with the buttery pastry and heavier fillings, helping to refresh the palate by cutting through the dense and sweet flavours.
Another black tea you can consider is the TWG Autumn Celebration Tea, which is blended with a hint of sweetness and candied violet. Maranda Barnes, Director of Corporate Communications & Business Development and Co-Founder of TWG Tea, suggests this tea as the perfect accompaniment for the full-bodied flavours of traditional mooncake fillings.
With Snowskin Mooncakes
Perfect for dessert, snowskin mooncakes are loved for their delicate glutinous rice skin, and are especially delicious when served cold. Flavours run the gamut from lotus paste to fruits and even chocolate.
To complement the highly-popular durian snowskin flavour, Michael Cheng, Director of Food & Beverage at Goodwood Park Hotel recommends “Long Jing” (Dragon Well tea), as the flavours of this pan-roasted green tea are able to measure up to the pungency of durian. Cold brews like Osmanthus Oolong or Ding Dong Oolong are also possible, as these cleanse the taste buds while allowing you to enjoy the fragrance of the durian.
With dessert-inspired mooncakes gain-ing popularity, you’ll want a tea that complements these creamy and nutty flavours. Lau Pat Sat, a tea blend from 1872 Clipper Tea’s City of Flavours collection, is said to counter such saccharine flavours well, with the fragrance from its real coconut flakes.
Barnes also shares that snowskin mooncakes are a wonderful match for iced teas instead of the usual hot teas, as their refreshing finish does not overpower the non-traditional, sweet or fruity fillings that typically accompany these cold confections nowadays.
Interesting and Unexpected Pairings
With restaurants and hotels outdoing one another with their adventurous mooncake flavours — that can vary from jalapeno to truffles — one wonders what teas would match up to these.
A good rule of thumb, according to Rehan, is that the tea should always complement the flavours of the mooncake instead of overpowering it. The mooncake and tea should thus have similar taste profiles.
He cites the example that a mooncake with lemon or mandarin infusion would pair well with citrus-flavoured tea. Thus, in pairing with mooncakes with new-fangled ingredients, one should look out for teas with similar taste profiles.
Another way is to familiarise yourself with the general characteristics of Chinese teas, says Goodwood Park Hotel’s Michael Cheng. For instance, he points out that black teas like Pu’ er are generally stronger tasting, while green, white and flower teas tend to be lighter in flavour. As such, one can then make a decision based on the main ingredient profile in the mooncake.
To take out the guesswork, Barnes recommends TWG’s exclusive blend, Silver Moon Tea, which was specially conceived to pair with any variety of snow skin or traditional baked mooncakes. As a light and fragrant melange of green teas, it finishes with a hint of sweet vanilla, which subdues the sweet overtones of snowskin mooncakes and balances the rich notes of traditional mooncakes.
Well, now you know. I hope this tea and mooncake pairing guide comes in handy for you.
By Samantha Francis