You’re probably already an expert when it comes to pairing up different types of wine with food. White or red, fish or steak, it’s something you always consider before throwing a dinner party. It’s practically an art.
However, did you know that serving up tea with the right flavor of chocolate can be equally challenging? Not only does it bring out the best of both worlds, it also makes setting out to discover the perfect pairing on your own much more fun. That being said, it’s not an easy task at all, so we’ll point out a few things that might help you on your journey.
First of all, you should take into consideration the strength, depth, and subtle notes of the flavors you want to combine. For example, strong black teas go better with an equally strong taste of a darker chocolate, while lighter teas compliment milk or white chocolate better. As explained by chocolatier Patricia Christopher – “You need flavors that will stand up to each other. If you take a bite of chocolate, and then you have a sip of tea, and you still taste the flavor of the chocolate, then you know it’s a good pairing.”
Secondly, quality is very important, so make sure you choose a good quality chocolate which has a high percentage of cocoa butter and preferably no hydrogenated oils. The same goes for tea, however judging its quality depends on many different factors such as the raw condition of the leaf, country of origin, climate, etc. So, the best way to judge tea quality is to taste it yourself.
How to pair it up
White chocolate is made with cocoa butter, sugar and milk, and the strong sweet taste is its main characteristic. So, when pairing it up, look for similar sweet tastes. However, you could also try something a bit different and mix it up with notes that are more on the bitter side. Types of tastes usually found in white chocolate are macadamia nuts, berries, coconut or lemon. Having these flavors in mind, try matching them with complementary tea styles found in Master Wei’s Dragonwell Green tea, lemongrass based Tisanes, Jasmine scented green tea or even Matcha. Known as one of the most ‘bitter’ tasting green teas, Matcha’s strong flavor goes very well with the sweetness of the white chocolate.
Milk chocolate contains 10-40% of cacao, milk fat, milk solids and sweeteners, which makes its taste mild, sweet and creamy. So, it’s probably the most suitable type of chocolate for combining with all sort of different tea types. It works well with spicier tea blends as well as the smokey black ones. So generally, pair it up with any black tea, preferably without milk, since it will spoil the taste. Then go for Houjicha whose roasty and toasty notes go well with sweet foods. Genmaicha is essentially a mix of green tea and roasted rice which give it a nutty flavor, perfect for combining with the creaminess of milk chocolate.
No wonder this type of chocolate has become one of the most popular flavors in the world, regularly present in all sorts of celebrations and events. No holiday season would be complete without a nice box of chocolates. Just imagine eating a delicious bar of Christmas chocolate and drinking a warm cup of tea. All those wonderful seasonal flavors of chocolate such as gingerbread, hazelnut or cinnamon go perfectly well with salted caramel tea or Ceylon black tea with a hint of pungent cloves and orange peels.
Dark chocolate has a higher content of cocoa butter, less milk and is relatively low in sugar which gives it a robust flavor often combined with both sweet and spicy notes. That’s why it tolerates really bold, tannic-heavy types of tea. Some of the best combinations include types of rich Chinese black tea like an aged pu’er, a bud such as Yunnan Golden Buds and oolong with its rich cinnamon notes, or honey flavored Tie Guan Yin.
If you decide on a remarkable chocolate or an extraordinary tea, pair them only with something similar in quality. It won’t do either any good if you choose something less.
Flavored teas, artificial in taste shouldn’t be combined with fine chocolate. The key is to focus on texture and layers of each flavor individually. Only then will you be able to make them work together.