Pairing Tea and Scotch

March 24, 2022
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Tea and Scotch pairing

Two drinks, one from leaf and one from grain, both boast a vast variety of flavour profiles that reflect the relationship between their artisanal process and environmental variables.  Parallel worlds of terroir and technique.    In comparative tasting bringing these two worlds together creates a completely new arena.   Tea’s heat and subtle delivery creates a smoother delivery for the whisky’s flavour points: Scotch showcases the quiet force and depth of the tea’s complexity.  As the 2 profiles blend we experience unexpected fusions and contrasts, harmonic flavour bridges and aromatic synergies that enhance our understanding of the fascinating details of each drink.    

How to taste a tea and a Scotch pairing?

  1. Our experts recommend preparing the tea first and letting it sit for a few minutes so that it cools a little to around 65c.  This gives the taster a better access to the tea’s flavour-profile. The Scotch should be room temperature,
  2. Our preferred tasting protocol is one we call the ‘sandwich method’ where we sip tea then Scotch and then back to tea.  
  3. Start with a sip of tea focussing on the flavour profile as it warms the tissues of the mouth.  Swallow the tea.
  4. Follow immediately with a small sip of Scotch and hold it on your tongue for a few seconds.  Swallow the Scotch, breathe out through the nose and wait 5 to 10 seconds as the alcohol evaporates.  At this point some of the tea’s flavour may reappear.  
  5. Now take another sip of tea focussing on the aromatics and warmth as they combine and contrast with the Scotch. Breathe out while tapping the front of the tongue to your palate, this is known as retro olfaction.  
  6. Wait a few minutes enjoying the residual flavours as they fade in your mouth before repeating the tasting or moving to another pairing.
  7. Focus, absorb and enjoy.

Here are a few team suggestions of classic pairings of tea and Scotch

  • Fruity Scotch + black Chinese wulong : Aberlour 16 yr (Highlands) with Shui Xian Lao Cong
  • Light Scotch + white Indian tea : Glenkinchie 12 yr (Lowlands) with Tea Studio Yin Zhen
  • Smokey Scotch + aged Taiwanese wulong : Lagavulin 16 yr (Islay) with Dong Ding Ms.Lin

If you would like to take this subject to the next level sign up for our Scotch and Tea workshops in Montreal and Quebec City.


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