Some things just pair perfectly together, resulting in something greater than the sum of its parts. Case in point: tea and chocolate, two of life's simplest luxuries which, when expertly paired, can evoke perfect bliss and awaken favorite flavor combinations never before dreamed of.
With this in mind, Tea Forté's award-winning tea sommelier and master blender, Piotr Miga, shares some insights on how to pair fine chocolate and tea for a memorable multisensory experience. Read on for some suggestions on helping two classic culinary favorites bring out the best in one another.
CHOCOLATE AND TEA PAIRING TIPS
Experimentation is part of the fun of pairing chocolate and tea. To guide yourself through the experience, two key approaches may be helpful as you decide which teas and chocolates to sample together.
In general, Miga notes, some of the best tea and chocolate pairings involve either two very similar flavor profiles, which can add layers of complexity to a finite series of established expectations, or two vastly different flavor profiles, allowing the contrasts within them to surprise the palate and result in exciting, unexpected combinations.
KINDREDS AND OPPOSITES
To pair teas and chocolates with similar profiles, consider coupling a berry and rose petal chocolate truffle with Tea Forté's Raspberry Ganache tea, or indulging in a spiced orange chocolate truffle alongside Tea Forté's Sweet Orange Spice tea. The raspberry pairing offers an immersive encounter with a familiar fruit flavor, heightened by the feel of a dried hibiscus petal hidden inside the truffle and complemented by bits of fine dark chocolate in the tea itself. Likewise, the orange chocolate and tea combination brings two citrus profiles together in already-perfect harmony.
For added inspiration, additional combinations of kindred profiles might include a mint tea with a mint chocolate, a matcha-dusted chocolate with a cup of green tea (matcha or sencha), or an amaretto tea with a hazelnut-filled chocolate. Milk chocolate almost always pairs well with a cup of tea enhanced by a splash of milk; for this, steep the black tea blend of your choice. Dark chocolate can be enhanced by a strong tea like a bold breakfast blend or a flavorful berry tea.
If you're bringing together two contrasting flavor profiles for tension and balance, consider trying a spiced chocolate with dried fruit alongside Tea Forté's Wildflower Honey Citrus green tea. The spiced chocolate's combination of dried fruits and hearty aromatics can play beautifully off of the delicate summer tea's sencha leaves and natural sweetness, resulting in an unexpected and delectable depth of complexity. Or try a bite of white chocolate off of the bright complexity of Tea Forté's Chamomile Citron tisane. Pairing a simple white chocolate with a bright, citrusy herbal tea makes for an array of flavors and textures that dance perfectly with one another despite (or, rather, because of) their differences.
To go a few steps further, unexpected combinations in which opposites attract could include a delicate rose tea with a rich, salted dark chocolate; a sweet white chocolate with a smoky cup of oolong tea or a tart hibiscus tisane; or a complex ginger tea with a simple, straightforward chocolate truffle.
ENGAGING THE SENSES
Miga suggests engaging as many senses as possible throughout the process for the ultimate experience. First, they recommend taking a moment to inhale the scent of the chocolate so the olfactory receptors in the nose have a chance to tell the brain something delicious is about to occur. Next, he says, listen to the sound as it breaks off between your teeth; good chocolate should deliver a distinct, satisfying snap.
Finally, feel the sensation of the truffle melting on the tongue and savor its taste while taking a sip of tea before letting the chocolate fully dissolve. This approach, he notes, encourages the senses to play off of one another, making way for deeper enjoyment on every level.
Limited edition chocolate truffle and Warming Joy tea tasting set shipped to your door in time for the tasting.
ENJOYING A TASTING AT HOME
To choreograph your own DIY tea and chocolate pairing, consider the combinations above for yourself, and have fun adding other selections as well. To prepare, follow the steeping instructions for your blends of choice from Tea Forté and pair each tea as you wish with the chocolates of your preference.
Give yourself permission to get creative. Let your pairings venture off into unexpected territory as you discover flavor combinations that surprise and delight your palate. Who knows what perfect match you'll uncover?
Photo credit: Top and bottom, @alyssanponticello