I have been giving introduction to origin chocolate tastings for a while now. It is always good fun changing peoples minds about a product they all think to know well and to open a whole now world of flavors.
But even more rewarding are pairings. Bringing together two high quality products together and experience how the combination creates magic is pure fun.
For the second time I was invited by Tania Roegis of wijnen Neyt (Waarschoot Belgium) to set up a tea & chocolate pairing event. Tania and her husband Piet Neyt run a successful wine shop. But Tania is obsessed with fine flavors. Some years ago, she immersed herself in the world of tea and today she is a certified tea sommelier.
Pairing tea and chocolate is not as straightforward as it might seem. Bold chocolate notes can easily overpower the gentle and delicate flavors of a fine tea and push them to the background. But if the right combination of tea and chocolate is brought together, the result can be surprising and even magical.
Browsing through a large collection of origins, Tania and I found 6 pleasing combinations. For some reason, tea seems to pair well with South-American origins. We had the great pleasure to introduce the following pairs to our flavor loving audience.
- Green tea with Jasmin & RokBar Kimbiri Peru 70%
A delicate green tea aromatized with Jasmin flowers opens up the palate of the attending people. The chocolate itself is quiet bold, with typical Peruvian flavors of Liquorice, Eucalyptus, moving over to plum and raisin. Yet combined, the flavors merge and the Jasmin tones keep floating around. The flavors enhance each other and make for a fresh finale.
- Hojicha & Mike&Becky Dark milk with nibs Congo 55%
A roasted Japanese green tea offers nice roasted nut flavors. Combine this with the amazing Single Estate dark milk chocolate (Congo) by Mike&Becky with its creamy cocoa notes, lush caramel and roasted nuttiness and you know from second one this is a match made in heaven. A tango of roasted aromas and savory creamy richness makes it an easygoing match, one of the favorites of the evening.
- Alishan Milky Oolong & Tibitó Arauca Colombia 70%
This lightly oxidated Ooling tea from Taiwan, with added milk aromas delivers an explosion of floral notes when combined with Tibotó’s Arauca Colombia bar. Soon the floral expression gives way to vibrant yellow fruit tones from the chocolate, before blending the tea and chocolate aromas in a creamy endnote. Harmonious and refreshing.
- Natural Rooibos & Original Beans Beni Wild Harvest Bolivia 66%
Rooibos is not a tea, but an infusion made with an indigenous shrub from South- Africa. Without any added flavors, it offers a honey sweet flavor with floral notes and a medicinal touch. It stands up well against the gentle yet vibrant fruity chocolate by Original beans. If anything, the chocolate becomes even more complex and shows citrus fruits, Jasmin and toasted bread.
- Jin Jun Mei & Åkesson’s Fazenda Sempre Firme Brazil 75%
Slowly raising in intensity, this Chinese black tea offers gorgeous full flavors, malty and earthy/spicy. Throw in Åkesson’s Fazenda Sempre Firme Brazil bar with it’s gorgeous earthy nutty flavors and you get a dark tornado of flavors where tea and chocolate wrestle and dance with each other. The finale is a grand explosion of roasted hazelnuts and peanuts.
- Ripe Pu Erh & Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé Canoabo Venezuela 72%
Peaking in intensity, this ripe Pu Erh, a fermented black tea from China (Yunnan), tested many palates. Marine flavors followed by bold earthy flavors of forest floor, mushrooms and beetroot. When paired with the Canoabo bar by Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé the roasted earthy chocolate notes and bread with brown sugar aromas counter the tea heavyweight, softens the flavors and turns the combination into an elegant pairing.
Tea offers the same amazing complexity of many other terroir products. Combining two high quality products can yield spectacular results. The vibe from the crowd showed both products have the power to surprise and inspire people. What more can we ask for when we share our knowledge with anyone who is interested. Go out there and experiment with flavors. Discover high quality loose tea. You will not regret it.
Thanks to Tania Roegis for making this possible and to change my idea on tea for the rest of my life.