Purists and academics commonly point to generic combinations: “green teas harmonize with white and milk chocolates, with a low percentage of cocoa”, “blacks and pu-erh, with dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa”. Reality is more complex and fun.
A few weeks ago we met with Juan Pablo and Mara Cortés, artisans of TA.CHO chocolate workshop, with the purpose of discovering the principles that govern the marriage of tea and chocolate. The exercise, conducted in conjunction with the sommeliers of Tian Tea Tea House, offered surprising and unexpected results.
The chocolates with the highest percentage of cocoa, for example, characterized by their mild acidity and medium bitterness, managed to harmonize with the more subtle end of the camellia: white tea needles and oolongs of low and medium oxidation. The milk chocolate tablets, usually associated with green tea, became explosive with strands of black tea and pu-erh. Yes, dear reader, pairing tea and chocolate is breaking paradigms.
Concrete examples?, take note. At the top of the peculiar exercise we find Joaquim, a 77% cocoa chocolate from Soconusco, with delicate floral notes and flavors of prune and red fruits. The aromas and flavors of the chocolate were enhanced with the unctuousness of the Yin Zhen Silver Needles, a pure white tea from Fujian, China, predominantly sweet and full of aromas of peach and refined sugar. Also, it managed to interweave with the floral nuances of Red Oolong, a pure oolong of medium oxidation produced in Taiwan.
The lower percentage of cocoa, the response were green and black teas of great intensity. Filomena, a 64% cocoa chocolate from Soconusco, with aromas of prunes, honey and a delicate thread of bitterness, catapulted the vegetable notes of Everest 1st Flush, pure Nepalese green tea. As if it had a double identity, Filomena also helped balance the powerful smoke notes of Lapsang Souchong, iconic Chinese smoked black tea.