Tea expert Reza Nasooti weighs in on pairing tea blends and mooncake, with a twist on tradition.
A cup of one of TWG Tea’s famous blends makes the ideal companion to one of its handcrafted mooncakes, presented on a stunning cobalt-and-gold set from The Urban Tea Merchant in Vancouver.
Some may deem it an acquired taste, but in Chinese culture, the golden, intricately embossed mooncake is a familiar sight. Each fall, these sweet cakes, filled with thick lotus paste, take on a prized role as gifts given during the Mid-Autumn Festival, their round shape symbolizing unity, as friends and family come together in celebration.
The mooncake’s distinctive flavor and rich texture make it a natural complement to the fragrant complexity of a steaming cup of tea. So it was only fitting when in 2009, Singapore-based fine tea purveyor TWG Tea put a refined spin on the traditional delicacy, unveiling a collection of meticulously handcrafted tea-infused mooncakes that pair perfectly with the brand’s aromatic blends. We met with The Urban Tea Merchant’s resident tea expert, Reza Nasooti, to talk tea, the mooncake experience, and finding the perfect match.
Lightly spiced, vanilla-scented tea sets the stage for an unexpected salted yolk core wrapped in rich brown lotus paste.
We start off with Autumn Celebration, a fresh black tea with hints of candied violet that evokes crisp autumnal evenings. It’s paired with Fire mooncake — golden crust filled with white lotus and pistachio, infused with floral Paris-Singapore green tea and topped with dried cranberries and red beans. Next, a full-bodied Golden Earl Grey with Calabrian bergamot served with Harvest mooncake, a zesty Western-style blend that offsets the cake’s rich filling of hazelnuts, almonds, macadamias, and pecans, scented with nutty Brother’s Club tea. Last up is Constellation mooncake, featuring TWG’s signature Singapore Breakfast blend in a filling of brown lotus, roasted melon seeds, and a salted egg yolk heart, it plays beautifully alongside a cup of Miraculous Mandarin — a softer black tea with warm notes of caramel, safflower, and mandarin oranges.
We also talked about the mysterious Pu-Erh, an aged black tea with an earthy flavor that Nasooti says, like wine, improves with maturity. It’s spotlighted in TWG’s fourth mooncake offering, Moonlight, infusing a smooth black sesame paste filling.
“When it comes to tea, every sip is a journey” says Nasooti. The pairings, he explains, are all about a delicate balance: flavors that can stand up to the cake’s dense richness, and enhance without overwhelming. The mooncake’s weighty nature means it’s best suited for sharing — perfect for hosting a globally-inspired get-together.
And for those trying mooncake for the first time, Nasooti suggests keeping an open mind. “Don’t try to compare it to anything you’re familiar with. It’s an Asian experience.”
An infusion of cocoa warms the brand new Autumn Celebration blend, created with the elegant sweetness of white lotus and pistachio mooncake in mind.
Aromatic bergamot plays up this nut-packed cake’s toasted dimension in a sophisticated Eastern take on traditional Earl Grey.
Photography by Milos Tosic / Photos courtesy of TWG.