It is a well known fact that chocolate melts at body temperature. Normally, waiting for it to dissolve in your mouth prolongs the pleasure; however, there are times when only instant gratification will do. Pairing chocolate with hot tea allows it melt almost immediately into a silky liquid, and there’s an added bonus: it refreshes the chocolate to its nearly new state. I didn’t think I could enhance the chocolate experience, but this is definitely a new sensual delight. Various teas can either mesh or collide with the flavors of different bars, so you might want to experiment.
My favorite teas for this little adventure are:
Yogi Tea’s Sweet Thai Delight (organic: rooibos, cinnamon, anise seed, carob pod, natural coconut, natural butterscotch, and stevia leaf). This is a slightly sweet tea and it really sings when matched with bittersweet bars that have a high cacao content, like Valrhona’s Palmira, any bar by Amano, or Pralus.
Numi’s Organic Green Rooibos. The edge on this tea goes remarkably well with slightly creamier or sweeter chocolates like Slitti’s Lattenero (even the 70%), Weiss (try their Dark with Orange, if they have it in stock on chocosphere.com), or anything in the 55-65% range.
Once I started thinking of tea and chocolate I began investigating chocolate teas. Serendipitea (serendipitea.com) offers a cornucopia of loose leaf options (17, to be exact) all of which have chocolate bits in them. I sampled six: four rooibos based and two with black tea. They all looked beautiful.
“Xocatlatl (their spelling, not mine) Chai” is a very gentle chai, as opposed to many in-your-face chais, and would pair well with plain chocolate, even high cacao content milk varieties.
Their two fruit and chocolate rooibos-vanilla blends, one with raspberry and one with strawberry, are very good. I prefer the raspberry as it is sublimely balanced and would go well with a dark, fruity chocolate, like Santander’s bar with pineapple or passion fruit.
“Pagan Alms” is a delicious, mild tea with a great scent of vanilla and chocolate. The flavor’s tame, so I would pair it with something complex, like a limited edition Scharffen Berger bar.
“Once Upon a Tea” is a blend of rooibos, mint, chocolate and vanilla that has a nice minty aroma, but, again, a gentle flavor. It could be interesting to try it with a Green & Black dark chocolate mint bar. I know this has a mint fondant, rather than essential oil of mint infusing the chocolate, but the intense mint might wake up your taste buds. Valor makes a 70% solid mint bar that would marry well with this tea.
“Buccaneer” is fair trade organic black tea with toasted coconut, chocolate, vanilla, and rooibos. Try it with Michel Cluizel’s Mangaro 65%, a fruity bar with a nice, creamy texture that would stand up to the black tea in this mixture.
Adagio Teas (adagio.com) offers 10 chocolate varieties. These are chocolate flavored as opposed to Serendipitea’s offerings that actually have bits of chocolate in them. I tried the following four:
“Valentines,” a black leaf tea with a light chocolate flavor that would partner well with a fruity bar, like Amedei Red Berries (this is an expensive little treat that I tried and found very good, but not worth the money… your hedonic calculus might be different).
“Chocolate” is another black tea base with less complexity than the Valentines blend. This would party hearty with almost any chocolate you like. I would try DeVries bars, or a fully flavored milk bar like Pralus’ 45% Melissa bar.
“Cocomint” is a green tea that has a lovely fresh aroma. The mint is subtle, so it wouldn’t compete with any chocolate you enjoy. Dagoba comes to mind as a good match, especially their “New Moon” bar (74%) or their Mint bar (59%). There’s a hint of rosemary in the mint bar, but it’s so faint I doubt it would create gustatory havoc.
“Rooibos Cocomint” is just what you would imagine, a flavored rooibos tea. This is less minty than the green cocomint. (By the way, when brewing any loose leafed rooibos tea you really need a fine mesh strainer to contain all the little bits.) The mostly rooibos flavor of this tea would go well with a strong chocolate like Pralus’ Jamaique, a 75% bar of Trinitario beans with a slight leathery component, spicy notes, a long finish, and a smooth texture.
Tay Tea (taytea.com) makes a rooibos, organic peppermint, and Belgian chocolate blend called “Better than Sex” that was very well-balanced. I could easily enjoy this with a wide variety of dark bars where the hint of mint wouldn’t compete, like El Ray’s Gran Saman.