BRANSTON PICKLE-INFUSED TEA ADDS OOMPH TO AFTERNOON TEA
One bright and sunny day, I was pleasantly surprised when Branston Pickle reached out to me to design a ‘Branston Pickle’ tea to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week. I felt honoured as Branston Pickle really is a culinary institution in the UK. Never the one to shy away from a challenge, I relished the opportunity to create a tea which would capture the balance between sweet, tangy and savoury notes to emulate the true Branston Pickle flavour.
Branston Pickle has always been synonymous with cheese sandwiches for afternoon tea yet tea-growing regions of the world are not typically cheese-producing or even cheese-consuming regions. At first glance, tea and cheese don’t seem like a natural match but in the realm of taste, texture and aromatics, cheese and tea are ideal supportive partners. If you imagine wine and cheese pairings, the transition to tea is natural as the same terminology and rules of thumb come into play. Tannins balance richness or sweetness, salt balances sweetness etc. One tactile difference between alcoholic pairing and tea pairing is the warmth of the liquid.
When pairing a tea to cheese, complementing levels of acidity is fundamental to an ideal match. Knowing cheddar has an acidity level of 5.1 to 5.4, I tried different fruits and variations as part of the ingredients to achieve a similar acidity level. The result is a Branston Pickle brew featuring black tea with fruity and citrusy aromas of apple, orange, lemon, and infused with the recently launched Branston Smooth Pickle. One advantage of using Branston Smooth Pickle is it dissolves into the tea easily.
Using a breakfast tea creates a more profound and rich flavour, while a fruit tea bag with hibiscus flowers gives the brew a deep red colour, adding to its bold and zesty flavour. The richness and sweetness of Branston Pickle infused with fruity notes balances the creamy, savoury consistency of cheddar. I chose all these ingredients (fruits and teabags) because they are readily available in supermarkets like Tesco.
Here are two recipes that I designed to capture the magic of Branston Pickle and each pairs perfectly with a cheese sandwich or a cheese board. The tea is designed to be enjoyed hot, iced, or in a cocktail, which I have named it The Branston Martini:
Branston Lovers Tea Recipe (for one 500ml teapot)
1 fruit teabag (any flavour)
1 black teabag (any breakfast tea blend)
2 heaped teaspoon of smooth Branston pickle paste
3 thin slices orange
4 slices apples
1 slice lemon
Small bunch of celery leaves
Honey (optional but recommended)
1) Infuse all the ingredients together and allow to steep 5 to 7 minutes.
2) To serve hot, serve immediately in small teacups or shot glasses and serve with a cheese board or sandwich. Not recommended with milk.
3) To serve iced, leave to infuse for longer till cooled. Add ice and serve in a long glass with a stick of celery for an interesting savoury iced tea option.
The Branston Martini (serves one)
1 shot absolut vodka
1 shot martini Rosso vermouth
2 shots Branston Lovers tea
2 pickled onions on a cocktail stick (only use this to serve)
1) Add vodka, Rosso vermouth and Branston Lovers tea in a cocktail shaker with ice.
2) Pour into a tall glass and serve with pickled onions on a stick.