The Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes, which are among the most celebrated sweets in Asia, are often widely savoured with family and friends over steaming hot tea. As pastry chefs create newer and more unique types for the modern-day Mid-Autumn gifting season, it begets the question: What kinds of teas should they be paired with?
Alishia Lim from Golden Moments mooncakes says: “In the beginning, people paired traditional mooncakes with Chinese tea such as tie guan yin, pu-er and so forth. In recent years, there have been teas with floral and fruity undertones for tea-and mooncake pairings.” Go for a similar tea taste profile as the mooncake you’re having, suggests head chef Yuen Chung On of East Ocean Teochew Restaurant. “A good rule of thumb is that the tea should always complement the flavour of the mooncake instead of overpowering it.”
Lydia Lim, director of pastry shop Teaspoon and Love, concurs. “Look for complementary flavours,” she says, adding that mooncake-and-tea pairing is akin to wine-tasting. “You can take a heavier tea for baked mooncakes due to the heavier flavours, whereas for snowskin mooncakes, lighter teas are better suited as they are lighter.”
Yet there are others who believe in a different approach to taste pairing, such as Janine Chan, marketing director of artisanal fine foods brand SUCRE. “The flavours and taste profiles don’t always have to be similar – there is the ‘contrasting’ approach. Sometimes the most opposing flavours can create the most ‘harmonious’ results. For example, pairing a durian mooncake with an equally strong tea like our Enchanted Garden – a blend of black tea with notes of Madagascar vanilla and pomegranate – produces a surprisingly lovely and soothing effect on the palate.”
Ultimately, what’s key is about being adventurous, as Chan believes. “Be daring about pairing the ‘unpairable’. Only then will you be able to fathom the best tea-and-mooncake combinations that suit you.