Cheese of The Week is a weekly feature on The Daily Meal, drawing on the expertise of internationally renowned cheese expert and consultant Raymond Hook. What follows is based on an interview with Hook.
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There are plenty of cheeses that are rubbed down with flowers, herbs, and other botanicals, but there’s only one cheese on the market that’s rubbed down with tea: TeaHive, made by the Utah-based Beehive Cheese Company.
This semi-firm cow’s milk cheese is rubbed with black tea and bergamot oil during its three-month aging process, and the non-obvious connection certainly works: this cheese won first place in 2012 from the American Cheese Society. The flavor of the tea comes through, as well as its citrusy undertones, and the Jersey cows graze on Utah wildflowers all summer long and are hormone-free.
"I’m not usually a big fan of cheeses with flavor added, but this one is really good," said Hook. "Bergamot is a great complement to it; it’s not overpowering at all. People might think that it’s gimmicky, but it’s not. It’s actually a really nice cheese."
Hook recommends pairing this cheese with a complex, fruit-forward wine, like Longboard Vineyard’s Point Break, a cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, and zinfandel blend. Other good alternatives are chardonnays, pilsners, and even chocolaty stouts. And while it might seem like an obvious choice, he doesn’t advise trying to pair it with tea.
"Tea doesn’t have the tannins necessary to make it a good pairing, and it just doesn’t really work with cheese for a variety of reasons," he said. "You might find one somewhere, but it’s a stretch."