top of page

A Symphony of Tea and Food Pairing Experiences

While embarking on a culinary quest for restaurants that offer a tea and food pairing, I had the pleasure of exploring four exceptional restaurants that are reshaping the landscape of European fine dining in the vibrant cities of Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, Turin, and Berlin. These establishments not only tantalize the taste buds with exquisite plant-based offerings but also transcend the ordinary by meticulously crafting tea and food pairings. From the innovative Chinese and French fusion at Yam'Tcha in Paris to the Naku (non-alcoholic pairing) and 5 senses menu delights of the nikkei cuisine offered by Sanzaru in Brussels (including an Umami dish), the Omakase experience at DIM Dining in Antwerp, and the operatic gastronomy of Opera in Turin which has a tea menu carefully crafted by a tea sommelier. Each dining experience unfolded as a symphony of culinary artistry, leaving an indelible mark on my gastronomic journey. Additionally, I am looking forward to visiting Oukan in Berlin in 2024, and perhaps wandering in the UK for the premium experiences.

Yam'Tcha in Paris: Where Asian Fusion Meets Tea Harmony

*Michelin Star For reservations and pricing, visit their website: yamtcha.com

Photo source: The World's 50 Best.

Yam'Tcha in Paris presents a unique blend of Asian ingredients and cooking methods with the finesse of French cuisine. The Michelin-starred restaurant, led by Chef Adeline Grattard, offers a striking ambiance and a diverse menu that includes dishes like chanterelle mushroom with oca potatoes and sweet chives in chili fuyu broth. The decision to opt for a wine or tea pairing is a delightful dilemma, with the latter crafted by Chef Grattard's husband, Chi Wah Chan. The experience is not just about the food; it's a celebration of unexpected flavor symphonies. All the teas tried in the pairing can be purchased at their tea boutique.

Date of Visit: Friday, 1 December 2023 (Accord Thé et Metz).

Menu


1. Vegetable Roll with Smoked Tofu, Octopus Zurit, Fishball and Sriracha

Paired with White Tea: White Peony

The meal commenced with a tantalizing dance of flavors in the form of a vegetable roll featuring smoked tofu, octopus zurit (the octopus was cooked in a coconut curry sauce), and a fishball with a touch of sriracha sauce. The delicate notes of White Peony tea (Bai Mu Dan) provided a harmonious balance, accentuating the freshness of the vegetables and the smokiness of the tofu.

2. Langoustine, St Jacques Scallops, Chiogga Salad, Grapefruit, and Yuzu

Paired with Oolong Tea

Next on the symphony was a seafood symphony, with langoustine and St Jacques scallops taking center stage. The Chiogga salad added a refreshing crunch, complemented by the citrusy notes of grapefruit and yuzu. The oolong tea pairing enhanced the briny essence of the seafood, creating a delightful interplay of textures and flavours.

3. Oyster, Clams, and Snail Congee Condiment Hainan

Paired with Oolong Tea

The third act featured a rich and comforting dish—oyster, clams, and snail congee with a Hainan twist. Paired with oolong tea, the brew elevated the congee's umami, offering a nuanced experience that unfolded with each spoonful.

4. Mediterranean Red Mullet, Pomponette and Petits Bruns, Shaoxing Sauce, Black Rice Vinegar

Paired with Oolong Tea ( Tie Guan Yin, Taiwan)

The main course showcased the artistry of Chef Grattard with Mediterranean red mullet, pomponette petals, petit bruns, and a flavorful blend of Shaoxing sauce and black rice vinegar. The oolong tea Tie Guan Yin from Taiwan (Iron Goddess of Mercy) elevated the dish, adding depth to the seafood's natural sweetness.

5. Roasted Quail BBQ Style, Cabbage, Morcilla, Raw Cream with Fuyu Persimmon

Paired with Rock Oolong Tea (Wuyi Xiang Tian Mei)

The penultimate dish featured succulent roasted quail, BBQ-style, accompanied by cabbage, morcilla, and raw cream with Fuyu persimmon. Paired with Wuyi Xiang Tian Mei, the tea's robust character complemented the quail's smoky flavors, creating a memorable fusion of textures.

6. Bao Stilton & Cerise Amarena

Paired with Green Tea: Misty Cloud

The grand finale was a dessert of Bao Stilton & Cerise Amarena, a sweet crescendo in the culinary symphony. Paired with Misty Cloud green tea, the dessert played on contrasting notes, with the creamy Stilton and tart Amarena cherries finding harmony in the tea's delicate sweetness.

7. Lu Shia Cream, Pineapple, Banana, and Passion, Sorrel Soup, and Orgeat Sorbet

Paired with Jasmine Green Tea

Closing the gastronomic performance was a dessert masterpiece—Lu Shia Cream with pineapple, banana, passion, sorrel soup, and orgeat sorbet. The aromatic jasmine green tea provided a refreshing conclusion, cleansing the palate and leaving a lingering note of floral sweetness.

Yam'Tcha's tea-paired menu is a symphony of innovative flavors, where each dish is a carefully orchestrated masterpiece. The tea pairings, selected with finesse by Chef Chan, add an extra layer to the culinary journey, turning the dining experience at Yam'Tcha into a sensory adventure that lingers in the memory long after the last sip and bite. For serious food lovers seeking an unparalleled gastronomic escapade, Yam'Tcha stands as a testament to Chef Grattard's culinary prowess and Chef Chan's tea pairing expertise. It's an experience that transcends mere dining, offering a glimpse into the artistic fusion of culinary and tea craftsmanship.

 

Sanzaru in Brussels: Naku and 5 Tastes Menu Pairing

Visit their website for info and reservations at www.sanzaru.be/restaurant-nikkei-bruxelles

Photo source: Sazaru.

In Brussels, Sanzaru takes dining to new heights with its Naku (non-alcoholic pairing) and 5 tastes menu pairing. The restaurant offers a unique fusion of international flavors, combining nikkei (Peruvian and Japanese) and Italian touches with local elements such as the doe and their dishes. The non-alcoholic menu called Naku, intricately paired with the offerings, adds a layer of sophistication to the dining experience. The tea choices are issued by the expertise of Cha-Hû-Thé, Chinese tea houses situated in Waterloo and Louvaine-La-Neuve.


Embarking on a culinary journey at Sanzaru in Brussels on December 15, 2023, proved to be a symphony of vocative flavors and colorful presentations. The menu unfolded like a gastronomic narrative, with each dish revealing a meticulous blend of textures and tastes.

The Vitello Tonnato, (an homage to Turin, my city) adorned with fried capers, set the tone with its delicate balance of flavors. The Sauerkraut Tartlet, featuring Colonnata lard, and cauliflower caviar with a hint of kimchi, showcased a fusion of influences from Germany to South Korea. Cream of chicory, harmoniously paired with honey and shrimp, provided a comforting Belgian interlude. The Beef Cheek Ravioli, complemented by saffron, alongside mango and gochujang, was a masterpiece of complexity.

  • The smoked Scallop Ceviche, paired with beetroot juice, offered a refreshing segue into the oceanic realm.

  • The Iodine course, featuring green cod, sweet potato, and nori seaweed, was elegantly paired with oolong tea, creating a dance of flavours.

  • Le Piquant - the Spicy, a poultry dish with habanero pepper, onion, and miso, found harmony with milk oolong tea.

  • The Umami course, highlighting regional doe, fir tree, black garlic, cranberries, and banana, was complemented by grapefruit juice aromatized with fir.

  • The culinary journey concluded with a delightful play of acidity and bitterness in a desert course featuring citrus fruits, nitrogen stingray, and angostura.

  • The finale, Sweetness, presented a dessert ensemble of chocolate, hazelnut, soy milk, and yuzu, paired with rice milk infused with cereals and cocoa.


The entire experience at Sanzaru was a testament to the chef's creativity, skillful pairings, and adventurous spirit that transcended the boundaries of traditional dining.

 

DIM Dining in Antwerp: Japanese Purity on a Plate

*Michelin Star Visit their website for more info: dimdining.be/en/restaurant/

Photo Source: With Love Nans.

DIM Dining, located in Antwerp, is a haven of purity with a cubist facade with elegant Japanese elements. Chef Simon Van Dun's meticulous assembly of dishes on a golden worktop showcases the restaurant's commitment to culinary excellence. The restaurant transforms Asian cuisine into a playground of creativity, weaving authentic local and Asian ingredients into dishes pulsating with robust tastes and aromas. Every bite is an exploration, designed to surprise and astound the diner's palate. The omakase menu features delights like crispy tempura of cod throat and Irish oysters with cream of tofu sauce. The restaurant's sake pairing menu, featuring rare selections like Junmai Regulus and Pink Ladie, adds another layer to the culinary journey in this Japanese heaven and it is curated by the renowned sommelier and sake master Jonas Kellens which showcases his expertise.


My visit on Friday, January 20, 2023, for dinner was marked by an exploration of the 8-course Omakase experience, a blind test that kept my curiosity piqued throughout. Opting for the cha-tea pairing, which predominantly featured Japanese tea influences and botanical blends transporting diners to Japan, added a unique layer to the experience. DIM Dining stands out as the sole provider of a sake pairing, sourced from Kaori Tea & Spices, one of my esteemed tea partners from the European Speciality Tea Association. The minimalistic yet sophisticated dining experience, reminiscent of Japan, left me eagerly anticipating a return. Meanwhile, I invite you to indulge in the visual feast offered by the pictures capturing the essence of DIM Dining's culinary artistry.

 

Opera in Turin: A Culinary Opera for the Senses

Visit their website for more information at operatorino.it

Photo Source: Restaurant Guru.

Opera in Turin is a sophisticated and stylish restaurant, where a promising young chef, Stefano Sforza, skillfully crafts imaginative, personalized, and occasionally brilliant cuisine with bold yet harmoniously balanced ingredient combinations. A notable aspect of the chef's culinary prowess is the exclusive use of fruit, excellent fermented ingredients, and marinades to introduce acidic notes into the dishes. The impeccable and professional service is complemented by a talented sommelier ready to recommend the perfect wine to enhance your dining experience. The restaurant's spatial design exudes depth, featuring vaulted ceilings and thoughtfully spaced tables, meticulously overseen by the knowledgeable Maître Gualtiero Perlo—a passionate tea connoisseur who dedicates a small card to this art. Assisting in the selection of wines and drinks is the adept young sommelier Carlo Salino.


During my visit on July 19, 2022, I explored the unique juice pairing and also indulged in a specially requested cold-brewed Genmaicha*. Opting for the vegetarian menu, an homage to tomatoes, I was captivated by the dishes, although their specifics eluded my memory, their tasteful explosion is well impressed in my palate. Notably, the presence of a tea menu was a delightful rarity in Italy, a country traditionally associated with espresso culture. Eager to revisit Opera for a more comprehensive review of the pairing, I invite you to enjoy a glimpse through the lens of my camera until the full experience is shared.

*Genmaicha (玄米茶, "brown rice tea") is a Japanese brown rice green tea consisting of green tea (generally sencha or bancha) mixed with roasted popped brown rice.

 

Oukan – Vegan Fine Dining with a Must-Try Tea Pairing in Berlin

Visit their website at oukan.de/en/start/

Photo source: Exberliner.

Oukan is a hidden gem tucked away in a serene side street, making it well worth seeking out. As we eagerly anticipate trying it out in 2024, this culinary haven in the heart of Berlin-Mitte offers a unique blend of vegan fine dining inspired by the Shōjin Ryōri tradition, a Japanese Buddhist temple food philosophy. With a creative set menu comprising three or seven courses, augmented by a selection of signature dishes, Oukan promises aromatically complex creations that defy the confines of conventional vegan cuisine. The restaurant's commitment to a fun and joyous dining experience is evident, inviting guests on a culinary journey that transcends time and space, complemented by the exciting architecture that surrounds them. Drawing on Far Eastern influences, the sleek and minimalist-style interior, adorned in soothing dark tones, sets the perfect backdrop for an exploration of multidimensional flavors. Oukan's impressive beverage menu boasts selected wines from small, organically working vintners, cocktails, and notably high-quality teas from Japan, China, and Taiwan. The tea and/or wine accompaniments to the regularly changing tasting menu of five to eight courses are thoughtfully curated by Oukan's dedicated tea sommelier and wine sommelier, promising a dining experience that harmonizes taste, ambiance, and innovation.

 

Other restaurants worth mentioning that we are looking forward to trying in 2024 are:

  • The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire (UK): *** Michelin Stars. Teas are curated by Lalani&Co

  • Ikoyi, London (UK): **Michelin Stars offers a great tea pairing with tea selection coming from China, Taiwan, India, and Japan.


Please don't hesitate to send us any other fine-dining restaurant experiences where the tea pairing is worth to be mentioned.

 

0 comments

Comments


bottom of page