Tea-rrific 

As much as I adore good wine with a meal, I like to take a break from the vino every now and then. And of course, we all have friends and family who prefer a nonalcoholic beverage, for whatever reason. But what do you serve with food, instead of wine?

Unless you opt for bubbly water with lime, or perhaps a quality tea, nonalcoholic choices are sadly limited. Filling, high-fructose corn syrup-laden sodas or overly sweetened sparkling cider only mask, rather than complement, most food’s flavors. Then there’s (perish the thought) the abomination called “nonalcoholic wine.” Don’t even think of it.

Instead, opt for a terrific new (at least in Utah) discovery called Golden Star White Jasmine Sparkling Tea—a splendid beverage that shares some of wine’s best characteristics. An elegant, clear 750 ml bottle reveals the tea’s appealing golden straw color. Chill before enjoying the light, alluring taste, a blend of just three ingredients: jasmine silver needle tea, raw sugarcane juice and water

Lightly fermented to develop complexity and balance, it holds hints of green apple with layers of light floral notes from the tea, and delicate caramel tones from the sugar. There’s just enough effervescence in the tea to bubble up in a fluted Champagne glass and tickle your taste buds. (If you don’t finish the bottle, be sure and put a good stopper in it to save some of those bubbles, but don’t count on them lasting more than a day.)

This wine-like tea pairs well with cheeses, just as a ripe pear or apple does. It’s crisp and acidic enough to work with fatty seafood or spicy Asian concoctions, too. You’ll find more pairing ideas on Golden Star’s Website. For now, the sparkling jasmine tea is available only at Caputo’s ($9.95/bottle) or online.  GoldenStarTea.com

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Virginia Rainey

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