MingCha’s pioneering tea expert, Vivian Mak, shows you how you can pair a nice cup of tea with even the most gourmet of meals, in order to please non-drinking and drinking guests alike. Teaming up with executive chef, Peter Find of The Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong, FOUR brings you these four exquisite pairings for the weekend ahead…

Pairing One

Hokkaido scallop tartare, salmon roe, lemongrass honey foam

“We wanted to start with something light and refreshing to pair with the jasmine flower tea,” explains Peter. The Hokkaido scallop tartare is very lightly seasoned and the citrus balances the natural sweetness of the appetiser. The yuzu gel has a lingering non-acidic lemon flavour, which matches perfectly with the other items. The honey with lemongrass foam adds an interesting touch to finish.

Jasmine Blossoms

Green tea might be very popular around the world, but many people don’t know which type of green tea they are drinking. MingCha Jasmine Blossoms is a handcrafted tea; a combination of two flowers, green tea needles and young leaves from Fuding, Fujian China, which are tied into a ball, then scented with Jasmine flowers. The resulting tea, Vivian explains: “Has a rich, sweet Jasmine aroma, while gentle and delicate in taste. I like to serve this tea in a cocktail glass, as a trendy starter at dinners and tasting events, which serves as a palette cleanser.” The delicacy and lasting aroma and flavour of this tea work well with the elements of this dish: scallops, citrus zest, tomato terrine, yuzu gel, honey and lemongrass foam. Water temperature: 85C/ Infusion time: one minute.

Pairing Two

Butter-poached Maine lobster, porcini mushroom, carrot purée

Lobster has a very nutty flavour which pairs excellently with carrots and porcini. Peter explains the dish: “We created the curved half-moon shape by wrapping the lobster tail with herb butter and garlic tightly in a plastic wrap, before poaching it in a low temperature to make it tender. The carrot was lightly roasted and browned just enough to bring out its natural sweetness.”

First Flush Longjin

This handpicked, wok-fried, old-bush Longjin (or Dragon Well) from West Lake, Hangzhou, China, is not a usual green. “The wok frying of green fresh needles and leaves brings out nutty, malty and savoury notes and flavour. It pairs well with fresh steamed or poached seafood,” Vivian says. First Flush Longjin brings out the freshness and fullness of the buttered Maine lobster, and the nuttiness of the tea blends perfectly with the porcini mushroom and carrot purée tomato of this dish. The contrasting and vivid colours of the food and tea are also visually stunning.

Pairing Three

Pan-roasted French chicken breast, sautéed foie gras,stewed apricots, potato millefeuille, braised shallot sauce

“Four ingredients working perfectly together,” Peter says. “Very tender and juicy chicken breast cooked sous-vide then pan-roasted. Soft braised and browned whole shallots and sautéed foie gras create a rich flavour and creamy texture.” The stewed-dried apricots provide an interesting twist. Tasty and well balanced; the flavours and textures complement one another nicely.

Phoenix Osmanthus

This award-winning MingCha Phoenix Osmanthus is one of many oolongs that are of distinctive aroma and taste. Oolongs, or semi-oxidised tea, are made from broad leaves that are picked, withered, oxidised, fried and baked to capture the freshness, body and aftertaste of an oolong tea. Vivian explains what makes this selection so special: “Phoenix Osmanthus is one of the 10 famous oolongs from Phoenix Mountains, Chao’an, in the Guandong Province of China. Trees are grown 800-1300 metres above sea level. This tea is naturally fruity, like peach, lychee, passion fruit, mango and osmanthus and it goes very well with poultry.”

Pairing Four

Crisp frozen raspberry and blackberry, redcurrant water vela, strawberry confit, Dulcey Crémeux, sponge

This dish offers an incredible contrast of flavours, textures and temperatures, with each fruit cooked using a different technique. Combined perfectly with the Dulcey Crémeux, very mild caramel note and soft sponge. This is best enjoyed with loved ones, which makes you want to have more. Really fruity with just the right amount of sweetness for a light indulgence.

Teguanyin Classic

A tea is important to complement the sweet flavours and wrap up the whole dining experience with a lasting memory. An espresso is often a natural choice in coffee, but did you know that there is also an espresso of the tea world? MingCha Teguanyin Classic, aka Monkey Pick, is a charcoal-baked oolong from Anxi County, Fujian Province of China. “I have worked closely with the tea artisan to specially bake the tea for a total of 15 hours to bring out the robust, caramel aroma and thick, rich-bodied taste with a sweet finish. It brings out the tangy character of the berries, but tones down the sweetness of the cream, leaving a clean and satisfying palate,” Vivian says.

Find out more about The Ritz-Carlton Hong Konghere…