Pairing Tea with Chocolate: A Heavenly Match!

Chocolate and tea. They form the base of my food pyramid—hey, they both arguably offer health benefits!

And paired? Well, that’s just another name for perfection.

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Orange Blossom oolong & Pure 67% Chocolate

Because the right pairing of chocolate and tea will bring out incredibly delicious nuances of both.

But you do want to use high-quality loose leaf tea and high-quality chocolate because only then will you have the complexities and layering of flavors that make pairing so wonderful.

Here’s an example of how this can work:

lts_webLast night Lisa, of TeaHaus (Ann Arbor, MI, shown here), and Dana, of Mindo Chocolate Makers (Dexter, MI, and Mindo, Ecuador), teamed up for a tasting.

Mindo was one of the U.S.’s first bean-to-bar chocolate makers. They buy organically grown heirloom Arriba Nacional cacao beans (which have a chocolaty–nutty flavor) directly from the growers in Ecuador, and then oversee the fermentation and drying stages.

They complete the process themselves, with no part of the cocoa pod going to waste. The pods themselves are used as compost under the cocoa trees, also conveniently housing the midges that pollinate the trees.

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upper left: roasted cocoa bean; lower left: nibs; right: Vanilla Rustic chocolate

The shells of the roasted beans are used to flavor other products—including tea! TeaHaus adds cocoa shells and nibs (the part of the bean used to make chocolate) to several teas to impart a wonderful chocolate flavor.

The pulpy fruit of the pod is made into Miel de Cacao, which is a bit like balsamic vinegar. And the nibs themselves are stone ground, and the chocolate then tempered and molded.

With Pure 67% Chocolate, Lisa paired Orange Blossom oolong tea (pictured at the beginning of this post). The tea’s light floral liquor balances well with the chocolate’s tanginess. With a higher content of cocoa, 70% or more, you could go instead with a full-out orange tea.

The Vanilla Rustic chocolate, shown above, is crunchy rather than smooth. Rustic chocolate is ground for less time than smooth chocolate, and the organic sugar crystals are stirred in afterward rather than being ground with the cocoa beans. In this case, the chocolate was paired with Nepal Mystic tea, which is similar to a first-flush Darjeeling. It has a smooth finish, and, due to when it is harvested, has a slight bite, which makes it ideal with the bourbon vanilla of the chocolate.

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Andrew’s Blend tea & Candied Orange Zest Chocolate

Candied Orange Zest on 77% chocolate is one of my favorites, and it pairs beautifully with Andrew’s Blend tea, whose chai and dark chocolate flavors meld with the orange.

Lisa noted that if cream is added to the tea, the fat will bring out the chocolate flavor even more. (BTW, Mindo shells and nibs are ingredients in this Haus blend.)

Assam Mokalbari tea, malty and complex, complements Cinnamon Rustic chocolate.

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White Peony tea & Michigan Cherry Chocolate

For the 77% Michigan Cherry, Lisa balanced the boldness of the cherry with White Peony tea, which has a 60:40 silver needle-to-leaf composition. (A full silver needle tea would be too delicate, so you want a new style white tea, which contains young leaves in addition to the silvery buds.)

And for the darkest chocolates, place the chocolate on your tongue and let hot tea wash over it. In this case, Lisa used South Korean Seogwang Sencha with its sweet grassiness luscious against the complexity of the Pure 77% chocolate.

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Korean Sencha & Pure 77% Chocolate

Pairing chocolate and tea encompasses more than just a cup of tea and a square of chocolate, however.

A parmesan-cheese-sprinkled-with-cocoa crisp, served with a lettuce salad—whose dressing combines Miel de Cacao, chocolate rooibos tea, pressed garlic juice, and olive oil—for example!

Or how about handmade marshmallows melted onto grahams and dipped into a warm, rich chocolate milk-Baileys-lapsang souchong tea-Mindo chocolate drink?!

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Think outside the teacup and chocolate bar!

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And thank you to Dana of Mindo Chocolate and to Lisa of TeaHaus!

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NOTE: Chocolate may be ordered at mindochocolate.com and tea at teahaus.com.

 

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