On January 9th we held a fantastic Pairing Tea and Chocolate workshop. At the very beginning I was asked where I got this outrageous idea from. Of course, I had to laugh, the truth is the very concept of pairing foods and beverages is a little strange and altogether unnecessary if one just wishes to enjoy tea, chocolate (wine or cheese etc.). But it’s also true that finding interesting combinations and novel sensations is fun and surprising for everyone. Not only that, the experimental process of trying and finding unique combinations is very fun, creative and extremely pleasurable… especially when you share your findings and hear and see how people enjoy the novelty of the experience. Besides chocolate always has a way of bringing out the inner child in us!
Pairing tea was inspired by pairing wine (with foods initially, later with cheese and chocolate). And it’s not a clever invention of mine nor a novel concept. On Internet you can find lots of people who have organized workshops and shared their findings and experience, publishing interesting pieces for the global community. This wealth of information was my inspiration, and after reading a bunch of articles I was ready to explore on my own. For this reason, below you’ll find a list of the 9 pairings we shared in our workshop and this way you can try to do it at home.
As you can see in the photos all the chocolates were from Zotter, an Austrian chocolatier with real expertise in experimental chocolate, producing new flavors and combinations with novel ingredients in chocolate making. We’re big fans of their project and sell their chocolates at our Barcelona teashop and teahouse. Their chocolates are organic, Fair Trade and they have a very large selection of vegan chocolates! http://www.zotter.at/en
Since our specialty is tea, I asked our group to first take a nice sip of tea, moving it all around the mouth, then take a piece of chocolate and nibble on it a few times to help it melt a little bit before spreading around the mouth and to finish with another bigger sip of tea. Each participant had enough tea and chocolate so they could repeat if wished.
Pairing black or red tea with chocolate is the most obvious and easiest way to go. They make for very natural, harmonious combinations. My goal was to include a couple of these with a twist but my bigger and more complicated pursuit was to find which green, white or yellow teas worked well with which types of chocolate. I have over 150 choices of tea at my fingertips, and Zotter chocolates has over 350 chocolates. (Hey… it can’t be that hard, right?) Finally I chose those that worked best and formed the best group so that none of the pairings resembled each other.
I’m just going to list the pairings, I’m not going to into the specifics if these combinations are complementary or contrasting, nor delve into the particularities and peculiarities of each tea and chocolate. I would like you to be surprised when you try them and if you like, take the time to tell me about your findings either in this post or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Yellow Tea. Huo Shan Huang Ya “Yellow Buds” + 45% Chocolate made with buckwheat milk
Oolong Tea. Tsui Yu Baozhong “Kingfisher Jade” + White Chocolate with Coconut
Green Tea. Long Jing Meijawu Long Jing Quntizhong “Dragonwell” + 50% Chocolate Pistachio
Green Tea. Gyokuro Tokusen “Jade Dew” + 36% Chocolate 36% made with sheep milk
Green Tea. Matcha iri Genmaicha + 60% Chocolate with almonds and other nuts
Black Tea. Assam Tonganagaon + 50% Chocolate Lactose-free
Black Tea. Shandong Lao Shan + 100% Peruvian Chocolate
Dark Tea Shou Puerh 2013 Mengku Amber + 64% Chocolate 64% made with Goat Milk
Green Tea Matcha Mantoku + White Soy Chocolate