While we know of drinks like whisky and coffee being classic pairings for cigars, how do these smokes fair with the British favourite – a good cup of tea?!
Why Do Tea and Cigars Pair Well Together?
It is believed by some that the similarities in the growth process of both tea and tobacco are what makes this pair work so well together. Both tea leaves and tobacco plants are grown in very sunny conditions before being dried and aged to create the flavourful products we love.
Pairing Rules for Tea and Cigars
Your typical pairing rules will still apply to tea. A darker variety of tea will need to be paired with a stronger cigar, whereas a lighter tea with more subtle notes will work best with a milder smoke.
The world of tea and cigar pairing will open up if you stop considering tea as just regular tea versus herbal tea. Within each of these categories, there is huge variation between flavour and intensity.
Here are just some of the types of tea available, and how each of these could be paired with a cigar.
The oxidation process that tea leaves must go through when being turned from plant to consumable tea has a huge impact on the flavour and strength of the tea.
The higher the level of oxidation, the richer the flavour and darker the colour of the tea. For example, black tea has a high level of oxidation, and so is rewarded with notes of dark chocolate and raisin.
Therefore, black tea will pair particularly well with a rich and strong smoke, as the flavours of each will not be overwhelmed by the other.
Chai tea is made using black tea that has been infused with a range of spices and is often served with milk and sugar. This gives it a greatly complex flavour that makes it very interesting to pair with cigars.
The black tea within can hold its own against stronger cigars, while the combination of spiced notes and sweet milkiness add a complexity that can lead to endless flavour pairing opportunities for cigars.
Oolong tea is diverse, with flavours ranging from light and floral to dark and malty. This range allows oolong tea to be paired with a huge range of cigars. Just make sure you take a sip first to check what sort of flavour your tea is presenting.
Green tea offers complex, herbal notes in each sip that pair wonderfully with the likes of Claro or Candela-wrapped cigars.
Candela cigars are green in colour due to their processing that sees the tobacco leaves colour retained and are said to have notes of green tea when smoked. Pairing like with like, green tea is the perfect match for this kind of cigar.
White tea is one of the less common types of tea. It is less processed than other forms of tea and is mild and sweet in flavour as a result. For this tea, you’ll want a light smoke, so the aromas of the cigar do not overwhelm the softness of the tea.
Herbal tea is also a hugely diverse category, with flavours ranging from subtle notes of camomile or berries to the stronger mint or cinnamon teas.
Therefore, there cannot be a one size fits all approach to matching herbal teas with cigars. Instead, you’ll have to work with cigar pairing principals of matching the strength of the tea with the strength of the cigar.
However, herbal tea also offers the ability to pair according to specific flavours a bit more easily than other teas. For example, if your cigar has fruity notes, it could be matched with a fruit or berry-based herbal tea, whereas if it has spicy, smoked or woody notes, it may pair nicely with a cinnamon tea.
Have you tried pairing cigars with tea before? If so, let us know your favourite pairing by leaving a comment below!