If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it many, many a time: at Tour de Tea, we believe the world of flavour encompassed within tea remains unparalleled by any other food group. It’s a big claim, but it’s fairly easy to relativise, so we’re going to do it.

We’re emboldened in this belief by conversations with chefs – curious, investigative people who are invested in the realm of flavour. When considering the drinks offered in Australian restaurants, it is reasonable to jump immediately to wine and coffee (we acknowledge: both valid and delicious). Tea comes third – if at all – despite coffee and wine boasting a more confining flavour spectrum than tea.

Exploring the flavour profile of coffee is comparable to exploring the diversity of flavour within only black teas. Within this genre there are thousands of permutations, based on cultivar, terrior, farming methods and processing. Some permutations are subtle, some bold – but all within black tea. Just like all within coffee.

When it comes to wine – there is more diversity: red, white, rose, dessert wines and so on, with the through-line being their source plant family. This is comparable to staying within all true, pure-leaf tea (green, black, white, yellow, oolong, pu erh): the common ground being its Camellia sinensis origins. Infinite permutations of cultivars, geography and processing provide endless innovation to the flavour of this magical leaf. The same applies to the production of grapes for wine.

Tea continues to broaden beyond these confines as it moves into the world of herbs, fruits, spices, and other plants (eg. rooibos or honeybush). This is the realm of tisanes: botanicals steeped in hot water that are substitutable within the ritual of tea – even if they aren’t derived from the Camellia sinensis. The options are limitless. Tea, when looking for interesting flavours, is unrivalled by any other single field. This makes for an exciting opportunity when considering food-pairing for a menu, or simply at home.

Dessert Pairings

As we reflect on Easter celebrations, we know many people have recently enjoyed seasonal treats. As such, we are centring this discussion around the flavours with which most of us have come into contact during March and April.


Tour de Tea’s Top Three Teas to Pair with Sweets


Earl Grey Premium

This tea has been a stalwart in Tour de Tea’s range from the beginning. As is often known, Earl Grey is all about the bergamot. As a result, when sourcing our Earl Grey we noticed many of the Earl Grey’s available didn’t seem to be on teas which could have stood on their own without the assistance of the bergamot oil. The key to making a fine earl grey is discovering an exquisite black tea, and then adding bergamot oil – not sourcing any old tea which can be covered up by intense flavouring. This is something which happens with many flavoured teas, not just Earl Grey. Tour de Tea’s Earl Grey Premium is made from an exquisitely luxurious, high-grade broken orange pekoe from Sri Lanka. Its velvety richness means it can support twice the amount of bergamot oil as a standard earl grey. As such, its rich flavour and fragrant citrus notes are perfect for balancing richer, deeper sweets. This is ideal for an occasion centred around chocolate.

By interspersing strong velvety tea with bold citrus notes, and sweet, rich chocolate – each taste becomes something anew, as though every subsequent sip and bite were the first. This is the incredible benefit of finely-tuned flavour pairing.

Darjeeling Vintage

Moving from chocolate to Easter’s other most common treat: hot cross buns. The traditional flavour of a hot cross bun is dried fruit, citrus, sweet bread, and spice. The fruit, citrus peel and spice, are commonly the hero ingredients, with the bread quietly holding up the foundations. Yet the subtle art of bread-making is what can make or break the quality of a hot cross bun. As such, with the hero ingredients doing their work for distinctive top notes, we would pair a tea whose subtle, sweet breadiness can be appreciated in camaraderie to, and lift, the foundational beauty of a hot-cross bun – the bread. Our Darjeeling Vintage is a blend of first and second flush from the far northern regions of India. Many black teas are grown in hot, sunny climates, which means the plants can be harvested all year round. However, in these northern regions of India which brink the Himalayan mountains, the plants move into a dormancy during winter. This makes the First Flush (the first leaves to sprout from the sleeping plants in spring) highly sought after. First Flush is very gently processed resulting in quite a light black tea. The second flush, is known for the hallmark Darjeeling note of muscatel – a slightly inimitable note. Muscatel is a flavour connected to the presence of hotrienol – a naturally occurring plant compound, which harks to the space of flora, wood, honey, and date. (This can also be found in some insect-bitten leaves like our Champagne Formosa, whereby the plant’s response to the attack is to flush itself with defensive hortienol – but that’s another tangent for another time)

Darjeeling Vintage has a beautiful balance, with a touch of floral, alongside bright clean woody notes and the hallmark muscatel. The simplicity of sweetened bread is a perfect pairing, not to offer a stark contrast between the two – but rather to complement eachother within the space of their subtle strengths – bright, birch woods – sweet bread; muscatel – dried fruit. They are all fairly gentle flavours, with neither outcompeting one another on the palate. Through flavour pairing, each component lifts the other to a greater degree than if both were to be consumed alone.


It’s the ethos of the earl grey, but on steroids. Back into the ‘contrast and win’ school of flavour pairing, hibiscus is an unmissable dessert companion. It can go where Earl Grey can’t; by being a caffeine-free tea, it is perfect as an after-dinner dessert pairing. Our Egyptian Hibiscus is the hibiscus to beat all hibiscus. We have sourced and sampled hibiscus from Australia, Iran, China as well as on the ground in Mexico. The Mexican hibiscus was the only one which stood in strong competition to the intensity and astringence of Tour de Tea’s hibiscus. Our Egyptian Hibiscus can be brewed lightly, to achieve a bright and sour cranberry and pomegranate profile, or brewed strongly to push those notes into a richly acidic, chalky shiraz space. This makes it perfect to square the palate against sweeter foods high in sugars, as well as richer foods with higher fats. An extra bonus is the anecdotal health claims of hibiscus tea – which has a list as long as your arm of purported health benefits, along with some less-anecdotal-more-compelling scientific studies in the space of cardiovascular health. While the flavour pairing is itself a strength, sometimes it’s also nice to have a psychological pairing, when eating rich and sugary foods by having a tea alongside them which we know is healthy and contributing to wellbeing. It’s mainly a nice psychological pairing because it can facilitate the justifications of a second serving, which is always recommended in the realm of dessert.

This list could go on and on, as debates on taste also do. The world of flavour pairing is inventive and subjective – with a bit of palate building, flavour analysis, and broadening taste across as many spectrums as possible, flavour pairing provides a synergy when eating – creating a meal and experience which becomes more than the sum of its parts.