The leaves are grown beneath shade, then harvested by hand. Solely one of the best uncooked materials goes on to fermentation, earlier than it’s rigorously heated and loved by connoisseurs across the globe. No, we’re not speaking about cigars – that is tea we’re referring to! Our tasters awaited this pairing with explicit anticipation. We wished to know: how would among the best-known teas on the earth pair with these “different” leaves – rolled tobacco leaves? In a complete of 24 combos, our panel tasted three varieties of cigars alongside teas from India and China. Our venue was The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna. The choice was chosen in session with tea specialists Eva Haas (Vienna) and Mahesh P. Ramnani (Tallinn), who additionally participated within the tasting. Their beneficial teas had been ready at exactly the proper steeping instances and temperatures for our eight tasters by bar supervisor Lukas Hochmuth. This tasting typically excluded flavored teas, as we had been aiming to style the pure taste with every puro. The one exception was a mix that Swiss teahouse London Tea created particularly to pair with the Davidoff 702 final yr. Its Smoky Assam mix combines Indian Assam tea with a small measure of smoked Lapsang Souchong and a touch of vanilla.
IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
We averted introducing a pure Lapsang into the tasting, as a result of we’d already established in prior pairings that smoky aromas in drinks don’t often work nicely with cigars. Surprisingly, the smokiest tea we tasted behaved a bit of in a different way than anticipated: Smoky Assam more and more gained extra followers from spherical to spherical, gaining a mean of two factors from the Frothy Monkey to the Maduro. In actual fact, the extra intense the cigar, the higher the tea carried out. (The mix had initially been declared “Christmasy” due to its heavy spice notes.) “The cigar can sustain,” declared Cigar Journal’s editor in chief Reinhold C. Widmayer of the strongest fragrant mixture. Like all eight tasters, he had a most of 9 factors to disclose to every pairing. As at all times, the tasting featured three cigars representing the spectrum of depth, from delicate to full-bodied. Estonian specialty importer Mahesh P. Ramnani, who can also be a gross sales consultant for the Dominican model Precept, had introduced the cigars together with the tea in his suitcase. The tea ceremony opened with the delicate Precept Forthy Monkey Signature, adopted by the medium-bodied Precept Confederate White Band Robuste, and concluded with the full-bodied Precept Confederate Inexperienced Band Nightstick. Regardless of their similarities through the fermentation course of, tobacco and tea leaves half methods in terms of how they need to be consumed. “The warmer the smoke, the extra advanced a cigar’s taste, however tea loses its refined notes when it’s drunk too sizzling,” mentioned Mahesh Ramnani. It’s the purpose the place these two aroma curves intersect that makes a pairing actually sing – and we captured it usually sufficient. First off, we had finished our due diligence by deciding on teas that we all know would possible be first rate companions for our cigars. Amongst these within the know, Assam Black is understood for its maltiness. In contrast, the Nilgiri, from India’s Blue Mountains, is extra floral. The semi-fermented oolong, with its creamy-sweet biscuit notes, proved itself to be a stunning companion for the smokes.
WHISKY IN TEA-LEAF FORM
A selected delight was a brand new Assam tea that’s being marketed as a “single malt tea.” Certainly, British whisky knowledgeable Jason Turner commented that its malty notes and evenly bitter roasted chestnut taste “remind me of Speyside malts.” There are additionally teas that aren’t essentially good for pairing with a cigar, however excel as a palate refresher between smokes. The fragile Silver Needle was consciously sprinkled into the tasting to supply this cleaning impact. Supplied as a pause between a number of attracts, it refreshed tasters’ palates and ready them for brand spanking new style impressions. Within the social sciences one would check with it because the “management group.” However sufficient concerning the particular person teas and their cultivation areas (which we restricted to China and India) – how properly did they play with the cigars? It was clear that the Assam Black made the Frothy Monkey “extra attractive,” as Jason Turner put it. For Reinhold Widmayer this pairing was “the right breakfast mixture.” If we’re speaking concerning the excellent allaround companion for all three cigar sorts, the Assam Black was the winner. Virtually neck and neck with the Nilgiri Black, it edged forward ever so barely. Each discovered themselves within the high three accompaniments to all three cigar sorts. When the Nilgiri was decided one of the best pairing with the medium-bodied Confederate White Band Robuste, it achieved a mean rating of seven.2 factors (out of 9 doable) per tester and the best rating of 58 (out of a doable 72) factors. It was intently adopted by the mix of the full-bodied Precept Confederate Inexperienced Band Nightstick and the Assam Black at 57 factors. “The tea bolsters the cigar,” mentioned Cigar Journal editor in chief Katja Gnann, agreeing with tea specialist Mahesh P. Ramnani, for whom “the cigar highlights the tea’s traits.” Pure concord!
How profitable the tea pairings had been relied on the magnitude of the cigar’s taste, and this was demonstrated by essentially the most refined tea within the tasting, the White Needle. This white tea comes from the identical plant as inexperienced and black tea (Camellia sinensis), however is made out of leaves at a distinct stage of ripeness. Its still-closed leaf buds are lined in a white down that offers the tea its title. Just like the volados in tobacco, the lightest, lowest leaves of the plant, these “white needles” have a refined style. White teas even have the bottom caffeine content material. Accordingly, this Assam White Needle instructions a excessive worth due to its shortage and since many extra of its small leaves are required to provide a kilo of completed tea. Mahesh Ramnani demonstrated an extra advantage of tea for cigar people who smoke. “The palate is cleansed between flights and readied once more to interpret the cigar’s aromas.” This makes White Needle much less an accompaniment to cigars and extra a drink for between smokes. Sadly, it’s delicate aromas might solely maintain their very own with the mildest cigar. Comparable in title (White Needle can also be recognized in China as White Monkey) and mildness, this mix was harmonious in its subtlety. “That is for women who don’t smoke cigars fairly often,” commented bartender Isabella Lombardo. However outdoors of this pairing the white tea couldn’t compete; even with the Robusto “solely the cigar could possibly be tasted,” mentioned taster Katharina Kreft. And with the fullest-flavored cigar within the check, the Precept Confederate Inexperienced Band Nightstick, “the tea was utterly drowned out” (Irene Rittler).
THE BASICS OF TEA SELECTION
However “like and like” weren’t at all times important for a balanced mixture. For instance, the Oolong Se Chuong gave the sunshine Frothy Monkey a taste increase. The Chinese language tea noticeably enhanced what the extra skilled cigar people who smoke on the panel perceived because the cigar’s weak roasty aromas. This pairing yielded the third-highest rating, demonstrating that the sum was larger than the 2 elements. Our tasting on the Ritz-Carlton additionally led to a different conclusion: it’s usually higher to downplay the cigar aromas. Intense particular person flavors, just like the Smoky Assam, solely labored for the tasters with a fuller-strength format (Precept Confederate Inexperienced Band Nightstick). In contrast, the refined “palate cleanser” Silver Needle solely scored nicely with the delicate Frothy Monkey. However the Single Malt Tea, with its whisky aroma profile, carried out very nicely with the cigars, making it into the highest three twice. The 2 oolongs additionally provided a completely acceptable compromise with their creamy mouthfeel, which went alongside properly with all three cigars. Nonetheless, the sunshine tannins discovered within the Assam teas made double winners Nilgiri and Assam Black essentially the most harmonious pairing companions. Avoiding over-steeping – even the black teas steeped not than three minutes – highlights the stability between tea and cigar. In these pairings, the cooling tea aromas swirled towards the nice and cozy, smoky cigar flavors. The top consequence was not a collision, however quite a real taste explosion. All you want is a teapot subsequent to your ashtray to expertise this pleasant union repeatedly.
Photos: Isabella Petricek