Tea drinking is one of the premier pleasures of the modern age that has been passed down to us by generations past. It has the ability to satisfy us on multiple levels and to become a physical and psychological medicine. Having the ability to heal the body and to hydrate it, and having the power to make us happy, tea drinking benefits us both physically and emotionally. With tea’s seemingly transcendent ability to satisfy, it can almost be easy to forget that our body has needs beyond the sacred beverage. Food being one of these needs, can make or break the tea experience.
Food is one of the important necessities that all living beings need in order to survive and to thrive. Good food has the potential to be our medicine as well as our basic sustenance. Providing all of our nutritional and even spiritual needs, food has the power to fuel our bodies while connecting us with the natural world. With that said, it can often be a wonder just how much the importance of food is neglected in the world of tea. Both tea and food are extremely satisfying but when we sit down to a tea session we often neglect the importance of having something in our stomachs.
Indeed, drinking tea on an empty stomach can cause multiple issues. On an empty stomach, any fluids consumed are caused to be absorbed into the body extremely rapidly. This is an issue for fluids such as tea and coffee which contain caffeine, as the caffeine is absorbed into the body at a rapid rate, often causing a sense of nausea and discomfort. Having food in the stomach before a tea session can mitigate this issue by slowing the absorption of tea into the bodily systems, making the overall tea experience more enjoyable.
Knowing that our bodies need to have food in order to make the tea experience more enjoyable is only part of the struggle. The next part is understanding that too much food can take away the enjoyment of the tea process. The key here is moderation and balance. Not enough food, and tea is absorbed too quickly. Too much and the tea drinking experience is marred by discomfort and a bloated stomach. The only way to find the proper balance is through trial and error, as each individual will have varying “sweet spots” as to the amount of food ideal for the enjoyment of tea.
The next part of understanding the relationship between tea and food is knowing which foods to eat and which foods not to eat. Again, the solution can be found through the process of trial and error as each individual will have varying needs and dietary restrictions. The basic guideline is to choose foods that are mild in flavour as any overpowering flavours can carry over into the tea tasting and taint your perception of the tea. We recommend staying away from the powerful tastes of anything heavily spiced, with garlic, onions etc. Also, anything with a high level of oil and fat may also negatively affect the tea’s flavour profile as these oils tend to linger on the pallet.
Understanding the basics of food’s relationship to the tea experience and practicing an awareness of this relationship can greatly enhance the entirety of a tea session. Each individual will have varying requirements and practices that will develop over time but as these requirements develop, understanding the basics will be very helpful.
What foods do you enjoy eating to assist in your enjoyment of tea? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!
Until next time, happy sipping!