Tea and chocolate: Something new on the palate
This article originally appeared in the Marina Times, May 2018 issue.
Tea is an incredibly versatile beverage. Have you ever tried sipping tea while savoring high-quality chocolate? If the answer is no, you’re missing out on a unique sensory experience. Tasting tea and chocolate together can help amp up both of their delightful nuances. And because we all secretly need an excuse to eat more chocolate, this looks like a perfectly acceptable one, and it’s virtually guilt-free, because, after all, it’s also a tea tasting.
Here are some introductory tips and tricks. Give them a try, and once you feel confident enough, experiment with your own combinations. First, match intensity of flavor — a bold chocolate with an equally robust tea and vice versa. Then, identify aroma and flavor notes by smelling and tasting tea and chocolate separately. Those aroma and flavor notes can successfully enhance each other by similarity or by contrast, but they shouldn’t clash or be overpowering. Ideally, in a successful pairing, the combined flavors keep developing into a harmonious result that will have you go back for more.
Tea is brewed hot, which will help the chocolate melt faster in your mouth and release its aromatic compounds. Try taking a sip of tea right before eating a small piece of chocolate and follow with another sip of tea. There are two ways of brewing hot tea, Eastern style (a large amount of loose-leaf tea is steeped in a small amount of water and the same leaves yield multiple short steeps) and Western style (a small amount of loose-leaf tea is steeped in a large amount of water for one single, long steep). Depending on the type of tea, brewing will require a different style and a different water temperature. Ask your tea purveyors for their recommended brewing method and temperature.
Curious about my favorite tea and chocolate combinations?