Monday, September 8, 2008

Teance/Charles Chocolates Tea Collection

I recently finished an article for World Tea News on tea and sweets. One of the great perks of being a writer is the awesome samples. I was thrilled to get to try some products from Teance and Charles Chocolates, "The Tea Collection" truffles, and Charles Chocolates' pate de fruit. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to say much about them in my article because of word limits, but I thought you'd want to hear more here. I'll talk about pairing pate de fruit and tea soon, but today I'm going to talk about one of the best ideas EVER, blending tea and chocolate.

(If I sound really excited about this, it's because, well, I am.)

Tea chocolates are a relatively new innovation. Keiko Tea claims to be the first company to make green tea chocolates (matcha-based) and Earl Grey chocolates are a chocolatier's standby, but lately some companies are getting more adventuresome with their tea chocolates. You may remember Chocolatea, which I've mentioned before, or The Tea Room, who does some award-winning pairing. I haven't tried The Tea Room's chocolates, but I can say that Chocolatea approaches teas/tisanes as a functional ingredient and (usually) a flavor source with some positive results.

The Tea Collection is something rare in the world of tea chocolates, though. High-quality Chinese teas are elegantly paired with single-origin and chocolatier-blended chocolates for fantastic results. They range from Osmanthus, which is delicate, milky and sweet, to Charcoal-Fired Oolong, which is deep, smoky, complex and lingering. Like most jasmine chocolates, Special Jasmine captures the intoxicating aroma of jasmine, but it also has a true green tea taste that really sets it apart. Other flavors include sweetly tart Lichee and floral, delicate Formosa Oolong, which unites the creaminess of ganache with the fresh cream notes of a cooled Baochong. My favorite? The ethereal Charcoal-Fired Oolong. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Yum!

What are your favorite tea chocolates out there? Do you also make your own? Do you ever pair tea and chocolate?

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