While drawing up my notes for this post, I had a vague feeling of déjà vu…and voila, there it was – a tea-and-dessert pairing post here on T Ching from our last holiday season.  Not a bad annual habit to get into, I finally decided – especially as new gourmet teas become available each year, and our creativity for new sweets continues to grow as well.  Whereas last year’s post had me in a more “sage” state of mind (working on choosing THE perfect tea for your dessert as a finale to a HEALTHY meal), my figure and culinary lifestyle are both somewhat more forgiving this year…so, I’m going to focus on quantity rather than the single perfect pairing!  Rob Cooke, my “brainstormer” colleague, was available to work with me on this post, so many thanks are due his way for the finds below.

Chocolate – almost as broad a category as tea itself, so I have made some broad differentiations here:

  • Milk chocolate/milk chocolate truffles – pair supremely well with Darjeeling, as a contrast in textures.  The sweet, smooth, and buttery chocolate (imagine ganache) juxtaposed with the bright and “minerally” (Rob’s term) enhances the milk chocolate and brings it to a higher level of sophistication.

  • Dark chocolate – again, such a broad range here, that I needed to drill down a bit deeper.  But overall, I was far more pleased with white/green teas in pairing here than with black teas.  The point-counterpoint theme works really well as you pick up on subtle notes in the chocolates.  Michel Cluizel has a single-estate dark chocolate from Madagascar, which has some strong citrus notes (as I find many of the African-origin chocolates do).  Nothing tops a citrus-scented green tea here, and I prefer to steep up our classic green tea blend of Sencha and Lung Ching with Strawberry and Rhubarb, aka “Boulder Blues”.  For the smoothest of dark chocolates – and my two absolute favorites are Michel Cluizel’s 1er cru d’Hacienda Concepcion (from Venezuela) and the 1er cru de Plantation Tamarina (a serious chocoholic friend of mine who had names for all his favorite chocolates dubbed this one the “Ella Fitzgerald of chocolate”) – my new favorite pairing is white tea, or a white tea blend.  I’m going to find an elegant way to present the Tamarina bar with Meditative Mind, a white tea blend with a sprinkling of rosebuds and jasmine pearls.

Peanut Brittle – resonates brilliantly with the brisk, ocean-like flavor of a fresh green Sencha tea.

Caramel – Again, as with the smoothest of chocolates, try this with the Meditative Mind white tea blend, or a single-estate white tea.  Like heaven on clouds…

Pumpkin Pie – Try it with a spice tea; The Tea Spot’s caffeine-free version is Holiday Spice Rooibos.

Pecan Pie – Our most popular caffeine-free herbal, Red Rocks, was the hands-down favorite.  The hint of vanilla and almond in this tea made for a pretty complement.

And as you’re looking for the right tea to serve with an assortment of cookies or rugelach, you need look no further than to Earl Grey.  It is the Prince among Princes at your holiday tea parties…the subtle citrus-bergamot helps the various flavors, spices, fruits, and nuts come to life.

I’ve been promising weight-loss teas for quite some time now…but I think my next post will cover winter tea cocktails.  Diet in February maybe…?

“Good tidings to all, and to all a good night!”

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