Friday February 15, 2013 | 4 comments
Last week’s Tea and Chocolate Tasting at Essencha couldn’t have come at a better time with the austere, self-disciplined month of January having given way to a more hedonistic February replete with excuses to break new year’s resolutions. Chocolatier Shalini Latour from Chocolats Latour presented her hand-crafted, tea-inspired chocolates, along with our teas, to a sold-out crowd, talking a bit about her process and chocolate-making in general. Given that Valentine’s Day was just yesterday, I thought it might be fun to share some of the more popular pairings from this event, along with some overall favorite pairings:
- Keemun-infused crème truffle: The normal smokiness of a strong keemun was tempered by the soft buttery crème filling in the truffle, yet the berry and wine flavors present in the keemun were definitely there, and mingled well with the fruity tang in the full-bodied rooibos we had selected.
- Blood orange chocolate heart: We paired this with our Sourenee Black Blossom from Lochan Teas, which possesses all the classic characteristics of a high-quality second flush Darjeeling, but is unusually smoother and sweeter, with a clean, lingering finish. Fruits and Darjeelings are a classic combination, and with good reason.
- Dark chocolate with rooibos-infused caramel: If you have some candy-making skills, I highly recommend you try this, as rooibos + caramel is a win! This was the overall favorite chocolate, as the three flavors of rooibos, caramel, and dark chocolate really do sing. Paired with our premium keemun, the rooibos flavor in the caramel became even more pronounced, the flavor transformed into a buttery, citrusy bite with earthy notes from the keemun and dark chocolate.
- Milk chocolate mini hearts: Shalini’s chocolate is always so pure and clean tasting, so I was pleasantly surprised that she brought a super creamy, yet deeply flavored milk chocolate for us to try. Although I’m not a huge jasmine fan, I temporarily became a fan as the lush milk chocolate melded beautifully with the subtle floral and hay flavors in our jasmine pearls. It also worked really well with our houjicha, which usually has a smooth, nutty cocoa note or two present.
- Matcha and dark chocolate mini hearts: Matcha and dark chocolate are the yin and yang of tea-chocolate pairing to me. Shalini’s dark chocolate is exceptionally smooth and expertly crafted, and paired with our finest matcha, it bloomed into pure perfection across the palate. As earthy, clean vegetal flavors in the matcha flowed into the more aggressive solid backdrop of deep chocolate, a round and cohesive new flavor was born.
Although a tasting is always more about the journey, it’s sometimes nice to arrive at a brand new destination in such a perfect way. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite tea and chocolate pairings, so drop me a line or leave a comment below!
The photo of the chocolate hearts is courtesy of Shalini.