Tea and Chocolate - How to Find the Perfect Pair
Chocoholics today have never had it so good, with a wealth of divine delights created by craft chocolatiers from around the world, and a great selection of high quality chocolate just waiting to be discovered on the supermarket shelves. Similarly, tea lovers have never had so much choice as to what to brew, with an ever-increasing range of fabulous, quality loose leaf teas and infusions to try. But have you ever tried pairing your favourite chocolate with a specific type of tea? If you do, you are likely to find contrasting flavours and characteristics that complement one another, producing taste sensations that take the appreciation of tea and chocolate to another level.
As well as tasting good, quality chocolate offers nutritional benefits in the form of essential minerals like magnesium, selenium, potassium, zinc and iron. Most teas contain vitamins, antioxidants, and L-theanine, an amino acid valued for its health-promoting benefits. So, what better guilt-free pleasure can there be than to enjoy tea and chocolate at the same time? Whether you opt for a bar of sophisticated dark, single origin chocolate, luxurious creamy milk, or something fruity or nutty, is a matter of choice, and you may have a favourite tea, or want to try something new. You can use your imagination and experiment to find pairings that work for you. Here are a few tips and suggestions, based on flavours and characteristics, to help get you started in your quest to find a perfect pair:
When pairing tea and chocolate, the aim is to choose chocolate and tea with flavours that complement, contrast, or enhance, being careful that the flavours of one do not overwhelm the other. Strong floral or fruity flavours in some teas may overpower the flavour of fine chocolate, and similarly, chocolate with strong flavours can dull the fresh and subtle taste and aroma of a delicate white or Oolong tea. Some pairings work because the flavours and characteristics of tea and chocolate are so contrasting, whereas others work because similar tastes and ingredients are evident in both.
Black teas, preferably without the addition of milk, can be paired with a wide assortment of dark and milk chocolate The bold, smoky notes of Lapsang Souchong work well with dark, full-bodied chocolate, and a creamy milk chocolate is a great contrast to a spicy Chai Tea. Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao pairs well with an earthy Yunnan black tea, a malty Assam, or an aromatic Earl Grey Tea. The grassy notes of green teas work well with both white and dark chocolate, and Matcha provides a glorious texture and mouthfeel when paired with white chocolate; the sweet creaminess of the chocolate being the perfect contrast to the bitterness of the tea. A delicious artisan white chocolate paired with Green Tea and Peppermint Matcha will surely tick all the boxes. Herbal teas containing mint, ginger, or fruity flavours are also good to pair with white chocolate; a zingy tisane can balance its sweetness and deliver interesting nuances of flavour.
When tasting chocolate and tea together, you can either first take a small bite of chocolate before a sip of tea, and as the chocolate melts, consider the consistency and mouthfeel of both as the flavours marry. Alternatively, first take a sip of tea, to warm the mouth and enliven the taste buds, before a bite of chocolate. Concentrate on the flavours you experience, be they sweet, bitter, nutty, or other, and how flavours are balanced by your next bite of chocolate or sip of tea.
There are so many different tea and chocolate pairings worth a try; why not invite some friends over for a tasting session where you can share opinions? Or just take some ‘me time’, to sit back, take a sip of tea, a piece of chocolate, and savour the experience all for yourself.