There was a time in my life when tea was just a beverage, and chocolate was, well, chocolate. I liked them both, independently and together, at just about any time of the day.
But the idea of tea and chocolate pairing—consciously matching a tea with a specific chocolate in an attempt to light the fuse for a flavor explosion beyond the firepower of each individual component—well that was a different world altogether.
But are these pairings really as great as they’re made to believe? Do they really work every time? Try some of these below suggested tips, and delve into this sinful experience.
So how does one begin? While toying with different flavor combinations can yield delicious results, there is something of a science behind knowing which varieties of tea will best complement which types of chocolate. The key is to understand the strength, depth, and subtle notes of the flavors you’re pairing.
Tea and chocolate can be paired in 3 different ways, to heighten our tasting experience.
First – Complement:
Select flavors and characteristics that are different from each other, but complement well.
Teas with a roasted or “toasty” quality, such as Dholla Assam Chai + sweet milk chocolate or chocolate caramels;
Full-bodied, coppery Assam Black Chai Teas (or others that would ordinarily take milk well) + milk or white chocolate;
Oolongs with sweet honey tones (like our Glendale Oolong) + citrusy dark chocolate or chocolate infused with citrus.
Second – Contrast or Agitate:
Select flavors and characteristics that agitate each other, and do not seem a very likely pair to begin with. References from culinary dishes will help give a head start.
Lapsang Souchong with a pineapple filled dark chocolate. Lapsang Souchong is often described as having a “meaty” or “cooked ham” taste.
Earthy pu-erhs + bright, floral dark chocolates;
Rich green teas, like Billimalai Virgin Green or even Matcha Green Tea + milk or white chocolate.
Third – Enhance:
Search for similar characteristics and notes in both the tea and chocolate that when paired will enhance each others’ flavor.
Floral greens such as jasmine Green Tea (like our Organic Rose Green Tea) + dark chocolate with nice floral notes;
Namring Darjeeling Tea or others with similar nuttiness + almond bark or dark chocolate with nutty qualities;
Earl Grey Black Tea or Uper Fagu Oolong Tea + dark chocolate with pronounced citrusy notes.
Process of tasting:
So we have the teas paired with the chocolates, and you cannot wait to try it yet! But what is tasted first? Refer to this tasting guide from Lindt Chocolates, to take you through the tasting – “slurp some of the liquid so that it sprays to the back of your mouth reaching the furthest taste buds. Make sure you breathe to take full advantage of the character of the tea. Swirl the liquid to coat your mouth and swallow, then take a bite of the chocolate.
This process will increase the temperature of your mouth and allow the chocolate to melt quickly and evenly so that you can savour the tea and the chocolate flavours together. When pairing chocolate with a high cocoa content, the process of tasting the chocolate is reversed so that you eat the chocolate first then sip the tea. The rich cocoa will be softened by the warm tea and ensure that all flavours and tones are heightened.”
One should keep in mind that the tea should not wash away the flavors of the chocolate. If you take a bite of chocolate, and then you have a sip of tea, and you still taste the flavor of the chocolate, then you know it’s a good pairing.
Chocolate is such a natural culinary partner to tea that it’s hard to find a combination you don’t love. So it’s time to put the kettle on & spend the afternoon in delicious exploration!
Did You Know? In downtown San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center, there is a Swiss chocolate “shoppe” called Schoggi, that does chocolate pairings with luxury tea. It is a must try!