Pairing Cheese With... Tea?

May 25, 2018

As you get ready for your Memorial Day weekend picnic or barbecue, don’t forget the cheese!

Jeanette Hurt is Lake Effect's regular ambassador to the world of Wisconsin cheeses, and she joined Mitch Teich in studio to talk about the art of pairing cheese with tea. While that may seem odd to some, Hurt says that pairing cheese and tea is very similar to pairing cheese with a wine. 

"The warmth of the tea can enhance the flavors and the taste of a cheese."

"[Tea] has a lot of the same characteristics as wine, as well as tannins, which wine - of course - contains," she explains. "You can have very light, very delicate teas, as well as, very aged, robust, earthy teas." 

Hurt says that tea also has the added benefit of being a hot beverage. "The warmth of the tea can enhance the flavors and the taste of a cheese," she says. 

To demonstrate this practice, Hurt brought in four different cheeses from Clock Shadow Creamery in Milwaukee, which she paired with a peach oolong tea. 

Credit JackF / Flickr

The Montague is an aged sheep and cow milk blend. Hurt describes it as: "A really good munching cheese." The mix of milk from different animals is fairly unusual for cheesemakers outside of Wisconsin, but common in the state because of how much sheep and goat milk is produced locally. She explains, "We produce more goats milk and sheeps milk than any other state."

Double Cream Colby is a play on the traditional Wisconsin cheese that originated in Colby. "They have on batch of milk and then they skim the cream off another cheese and put that in. So it's a richer, creamier colby, but still very mild, very good for sandwiches," says Hurt. 

Cream City Brick is a take on another Wisconsin tradition: Brick cheese. It has a mild flavor, which pairs well with the peach oolong (it was Mitch's favorite pairing). The Cream City Brick has an interesting origin story, Hurt explains: "It's made with the milk from the cows that go to the State Fair." 

Quark with SA Braai Chutney is a fresh cheese made by the creamery, which they've combined with a chutney from SA Braai, based in Wauwatosa. "It's a fresh, creamy cheese," says Hurt. 

Jeanette Hurt is a Wisconsin-based food writer and she is part of the Big Cheese event at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.