Foods to AVOID with tea

by Wagh Bakri on Jun 20, 2024

 A woman holding a cup of tea shocked looking at the screen

All of us have that one particular comfort chai-time snack that we prefer above everything else. It’s the one that we’ve been eating since childhood. It’s the one that takes us on a trip down memory lane every time we have it.

That comfort snack is exactly what we are NOT going to talk about in this blog. Instead, we'll be talking about the weird and unusual food pairings with tea that we’ve tried at some point and enjoyed immensely but the people around us didn’t seem to. Or maybe even we didn’t. So, here’s a list of some tea-time companions that, ideally, should be found nowhere near tea.

Table of Contents

  1. Citrus Fruits
  2. Dairy Products
  3. Chocolates
  4. Chinese Food
  5. Pastas
  6. Concluding thoughts

Citrus Fruits

Citrus or Chai? You can choose only one

All of us must have, one day, decided to only have fruits for breakfast and as luck would have it only some oranges might be there at home. Pairing citrus fruits with chai (Milk tea) should be considered a culinary crime.

Poor tastebuds. It must be such a tragedy to have two flavours that are so far apart from each other to be pushed on right in the morning. However, if you want to have citrus flavour anyhow, without giving up tea, you can go for green tea. In fact, green tea and citrus fruits go perfectly well with each other. You can squeeze in some lemon juice to enjoy a refreshing cup in the mornings.

Dairy Products

Dairy products
Don’t brew any mischief here!

Tea is made with milk, a dairy product, right? So then what could be the harm? Well, not all types of tea, so we’ll come to that later. This deadly combination can cause a lot of harm it turns out. Imagine having buttermilk with chai. Exactly. And it goes for other popular dairy products as well like cheese and curd.

Buttermilk and chai should be had together only in the extreme scenario when you want to have a strange aftertaste. The same goes for curd, imagine all the creamy texture with green tea or masala chai…not a very pleasant picture. The best (actually worst) of all dairy products would be cheese. Cheese and masala chai is a combination that no part of this universe ever needs. So please, don’t break the unsaid rules of humanity and let the status quo be.

If you are adamant about having a creamy texture, milk is the best option. Add it to get your classic masala chai!


Tempting dark chocolate
Tempting dark chocolate, tastes best when eaten without chai

Chocolates and chai are two universally loved treats, but can they taste good when tried together? The answer, like most things in life, is a resounding "it depends."

For those who favour milk chocolate's creamy sweetness, a cup of light and floral Darjeeling tea can be a delightful pairing. The tea's delicate notes won't overpower the chocolate's subtle flavours, creating a balanced and enjoyable experience.

But…where it gets tricky is when dark chocolate comes into the picture. Dark chocolate has intense bitterness, it can overpower the taste of chai and spoil your experience of both. Some dark chocolates have fruity or spicy ingredients as well (yes, even chilli) which just makes it worse. The tea can make the chocolate taste dry and even darker, kind of like erasing all the yummy sweetness in one sip. Better to not mix the two and enjoy them separately.

Chinese Food

A red pepper on fire
Imagine having chai with this…

It’s not necessary that if you love two things, i.e. Chai and Chinese food, they will taste amazing together. For example chocolates and aam ras.

There’s a reason most people prefer salty and sweet snacks such as cookies with tea. These allow you to enjoy the taste of chai without overpowering it. And for the same reason, Chinese food is just not made for Chai-time snacking. It overpowers the more subtle and enjoyable flavours in tea. Just imagine: having Schezwan Manchurian with Chai. Doesn’t the thought scare you? If you anyhow want some spice, there’s a solution for you, you can just make a nice cup of Masala Chai instead!


A creamy dish of pasta
No part of this should make you think: “Let’s have chai with this!”

Pasta is undeniably one of the most delicious food items and a gift from Italy to the world. All of us love pasta. However, Italians never thought about optimising it to taste well with chai. And that’s why Pasta made it to this list. Pasta and tea belong in separate zones altogether. However, if you are in the mood to somehow combine both, you can go for a plain black tea which will actually complement the heavier pasta dishes quite well.

Obviously, it goes without saying that this applies to several other international cuisines as well. Don’t mix chai with Thai, Mediterranean, Mexican and Chinese dishes as well. And if you do, you might just be the pioneer of the next big chai and pasta trend, or chai and nachos trend. After all, innovation often starts with a little bit of experimentation and a willingness to step outside the box (or, in this case, the teacup).

Concluding thoughts

While we've explored some unusual pairings that might not be for everyone, the beauty of chai lies in its versatility. Feel free to experiment and discover what works best for you. Perhaps you'll find a hidden gem of a combination that becomes your own personal chai ritual. And hey, if you do find yourself enjoying a steaming cup with a side of something unexpected, don't be afraid to share it with the world!

Maybe it is the ritual passed down the generations in your family to have chai with a slice of Pizza every morning or maybe that is just your style. At the end of the day, your cup of tea is, well, your cup of tea and no amount of taste-bud snobbery should stop you from having it the way you love. You can rest assured, we won’t tell anyone. Your favourite weird and wacky chai-time pairing is a secret with us;)

Just remember, the only true crime is a lukewarm cup of chai. So, brew it strong, sip it slow and enjoy your chai experience to the fullest, however unique it may be.


What should be eaten with tea?

The most loved tea and food pairings are glucose biscuits, cookies, toast, salty biscuits and khari. These are the classic tea-time snacks because they complement the flavours of tea very well and are always enjoyable.

What not to do when drinking tea?

Don’t dunk your biscuit for too long and let it fall into the cup unless of course that was your intention. Remember, just a quick dunk and then a bite or else there’ll be a mess.

What is the correct way to drink tea?

You should drink tea any way you want. There’s no one particular correct way to have it. Everybody has their own preferences and can even tweak the recipe to their liking. That’s why the taste of tea in every Indian household is unique and different from the other.