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Why you should sweeten your tea with jam

Putting fruity jam in a cup of tea is a trend that's now catching on in the U.S.
/ Source: TODAY
strawberry jam and cup of tea; Shutterstock ID 48895678; PO: jam-tea-food-today-inline-151125; Client: TODAY Digitalgrintan / Shutterstock

Two years ago, the country went mad for the paleo diet-inspired trend of adding a pat of grass-fed butter to a cup of coffee. The latest surprising combination: hot tea with fruity jam.

It actually makes total sense: Jam brings out the natural flavors of tea, without overwhelming it with sweetness, making it a nice alternative to sugar or even honey.

While it's a new idea here, it's actually a Russian tradition that one Portland, Oregon, tea maker and chef are hoping will catch on after the release of a special boxed edition of tea, which comes with a jar of huckleberry jam.

Smith Teamaker's Tony Tellin and chef Vitaly Paley collaborated on the release of the limited-edition, house-made tea, dubbed Georgia Caravan, a black tea that's house-smoked with hickory wood, then blended with Indian Assam and Darjeeling and hibiscus. A small scoop of the sweet-and-tart, house made huckleberry jam balances it out.

But you don't have to get so fancy-pants to try jam in your tea, says Tellin.

Give the trend a try at home with what you have on hand: "Strawberry jam swirled into English breakfast tea would be a great," Tellin says.

The jam-and-tea boxed set was the inspiration of Paley, a James Beard Award-winner and Iron Chef America champion, who was born near Kiev in the former Soviet Union, where tea is often served with sugar, lemon, honey and jam.

You can find Russian tea service at some other places in the U.S., such as at the Russian Tea Room in New York City, where the $50 Afternoon Tea can include a personal pot of tea with jam as well as a bowl of cherries as a sweetening option.

Paley himself serves tea with jam at his Russian-inspired pop-up restaurant in Portland, DaNet. It brings together his memories of Russia with where he is in life today, the chef says: "This tea is a combination of the place I came from and where I am now. It is at once unique and familiar."

Tea drinkers—what do you think? Will you give jam a try in your tea?