While tea and savory foods go together really well, most of us are more familiar with tea and sweets, like cookies and cakes. Chocolate, however, is becoming more widely known as one of the best foods to enjoy with tea. As with wine, tea and chocolate have come to the attention of the experts in the food industry; some person, I don’t know who, had the brilliant idea to treat tea and chocolate like wine, and have tastings! Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a really great idea. Charles Chocolates, of Emeryville, is one of several companies that have regular tea and chocolate tastings, and some vendors are even selling tea infused chocolates.
Pearl Dexter, editor and publisher of Tea, a Magazine, says “there are three ways to look at tea and chocolate pairings. The first is as ‘friends,’ teas and chocolates with similar characteristics. The second is as ‘lovers,’ teas and chocolates that compliment each other through their differences. The third happens when both combine … a ‘perfect match.’” However, lest you think that tea and chocolate tastings are only for professionals, it is entirely possible for a regular person (like you and me) to find a wonderful tea and chocolate pairing. Many experts have helped the ordinary tea and chocolate lover by making a list of some of the most popular tea blends and the types of chocolate that they think taste best together. Here are some tips to guide your own palate, and help you find your own “perfect match” of tea and chocolate!
Assam: Origin – India. Dominant flavor – malty. Pair with — dark chocolate.
Chai: Origin – India. Dominant flavors – nutmeg, cinnamon. Pair with — milk chocolate.
Darjeeling: Origin – India. Dominant flavor – bright muscatel. Pair with — white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate
Dragonwell: Origin – China. Dominant flavors – nutty, vegetal. Pair with – white or milk chocolate.
Earl Grey: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – bergamot. Pair with — chocolate macaroons, dark chocolate.
Gyokuro: Origin – Japan. Dominant flavor – sweetish. Pair with – dark chocolate, all chocolate desserts.
Hojicha: Origin – Japan. Dominant flavor – roasted/nutty. Pair with — brownies.
Irish Breakfast: Origin – India, China and East Africa. Dominant flavor – malty. Pair with — chocolate cake.
Jasmine: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – flowery. Pair with — chocolate madelines.
Keemun: Origin – China. Dominant flavors – rich and fruity. Pair with – milk or dark chocolate.
Matcha: Origin – Japan. Dominant flavor – fresh grass. Pair with — white chocolate.
Oolong: Origin – Taiwan, China. Dominant flavors – flowery, fruity. Pair with – white, milk, or dark chocolate.
Pu-erh: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – earthy. Pair with — dark chocolate.
Sencha: Origin – Japan. Dominant flavor – savory vegetal/seaweed. Pair with – white or milk chocolate.
Silver Needle: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – sweet vegetal. Pair with — white chocolate.
Yunnan: Origin – China. Dominant flavor – spicy or peppery. Pair with – white or milk chocolate.
While I was at the San Pedro Square farmers’ market in downtown San Jose a few weeks ago, I bought some lovely chocolate with chipotle chiles and dried cherries in it. I wonder if I should try it with a Chai or a Keemun?
Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.
For more info: “Which foods go with black tea?”
“Which foods go with green tea?”
“Which foods go with oolong or pu-erh tea?”
“Which foods go with white tea?”
“Celebrate National Chocolate Day with a chocolate tea!”
“Tea Wheel I: Tea and Chocolate pairings”
“Tea & Chocolate: pairings” from the Urbana Tea and Tonics Blog
“Chocolate and Tea pairings” from The Nibble
“Hojicha and chocolate pairing”
“Tea and Chocolate: Chocolate & Tea”, Chassom, Chassom Tea Salon newsletter, September 2007.
Super Workshop: Chocolate and Tea, World Tea Expo 2009
“Tea-flavored Dolphin chocolate”
The Tea Room (tea-infused organic chocolate bars)