By Cate Devine

FOODIES have long appreciated the delights of the restaurant tasting menu where carefully selected wines, craft beers or even botanical gins are paired with each delicious course to bring out the best in both.

But now, as modern diners increasingly choose to eschew alcohol, Scotland is set to embrace the new teetotal demographic – with the first-ever menu designed to be consumed with tea.

Next week, The Gardener’s Cottage restaurant in Edinburgh joins forces with tea sommelier Erica Moore, of the capital’s Eteaket leaf tea store, to host a sell-out £65 a head bespoke feast where seven courses are matched with seven different brews at varying temperatures from cold, through to ambient and hot.

Research suggests that one in five younger adults in the UK is refraining from drinking alcohol, which means chefs and restaurateurs are seeking out innovative ways to keep their tastebuds tantalised without intoxication.

“Pairing tea with food is a burgeoning trend in high-end restaurants in London and Paris,” said chef Brendan Murch.

“Although it’s new in Scotland we think it’s the way forward for many of our customers.

“Wine-tasting menus are great, but they can leave you feeling a bit ragged in the morning. People don’t want to drink that much during the working week or when they have the gym first thing in the morning.

“As a chef this is interesting because it’s something new and exciting.”

For tea expert and former lawyer Ms Moore, pairing food with tea can help introduce more Scots to different types of tea.

“After all, tea is part of Scotland’s DNA,” she said. “Scotland has such a rich history of tea and it’s good that through this menu we’re using new teas with a modern Scottish twist, such as Harris gin, Tomatin whisky, and seabuckthorn. We’re already looking at fermented teas to marry with modern food trends.”

Ceylon’s first tea estate was established by a Scot, and grocer Thomas Lipton of Glasgow, who made it accessible to all, while the Cutty Sark clipper was built on the river Clyde at Dumbarton. Scots were dominant in all ranks of the East India Company, and in the 19th century Glasgow was one of the largest receivers of tea from China – hence the plethora of tea warehouses around the Broomlielaw.

“This has been amazing,” said Ms Moore. “When I saw the menu in print I had an idea of what could go with each dish but because it has so many different flavour nuances, a lot of my choices changed when I tasted it.

“Once I hit on the right one, I knew there was no going back.”