I just googled what the literal definition of sommelier is and it’s a “wine steward”. I’m not sure if there is an official name for a tea steward, but if there is that title belongs to Sam from Tearrific. She’s the #bossbabe behind the YYC Tea Wagon (the wagon itself is for sale BTW!) and the entire Tearrific brand. Not only does she hand blend the teas individually, she also manages the shipping, logistics, marketing and every other job required to keep her small business running.
I invited Sam to the blog to share her extensive tea steward knowledge with us and talk about food pairings with tea. She invited Jolene, the chocolate mastermind behind Old Coal, to join her in their tea/chocolate exploration. I’m confident that there was no better place in Calgary to be than with them during their afternoon of chocolate/tea tasting!
BFF: Tea and Chocolate Pairings
Jolene from Old Coal and I got together recently to do a tea and chocolate tasting. There are not too many things in life I love as much as tea, but chocolate is one of those things. Sam kindly invited me to write about our experiment for her blog, so I’m excited to share our tasty findings with you!
The most important thing about pairing tea and chocolate – in my opinion – is that they go well together without overpowering each other. One flavour should either compliment or contrast with the other flavour, with the tea enhancing the experience of eating the chocolate. Old Coal’s chocolates are hand-painted and come in unusual, delicious flavours like Fennel Pollen and Seabuckthorn. These flavours might be difficult to pair with tea, but we were up for the challenge.
Jolene and I also paired tea with some regular premium chocolate, so we have you covered even if you aren’t lucky enough to get your hands on some of Old Coal’s incredible chocolates.
Our Pairings with Old Coal’s Chocolates
Seabuckthorn & Orchard Oolong – the Seabuckthorn chocolate has a dark chocolate shell filled with Seabuckthorn berry jelly and ganache. Because Seabuckthorn is a berry and dark chocolate has a strong flavour on its own, we chose Tearrific’s Orchard Oolong to go with it. Oolong is half way between black and green in the tea oxidization process, so it’s milder in taste than black tea and doesn’t fight with the dark chocolate for flavour dominance. Orchard also contains fruit pieces and jasmine, which were a great compliment to the dark chocolate and Seabuckthorn.
Rasberry Rosehip & Sencha Green – Sencha is a steamed green tea with a strong grassy flavour. The Raspberry Rosehip chocolate from Old Coal is white chocolate with – you guessed it – raspberry and Alberta-grown rosehip. Green tea and white chocolate is a stellar and reasonably popular combination, so it was a safe bet. I also thought the green tea went exceptionally well with the slightly tart raspberry and rosehip filling.
Honey Honey & Canadian Breakfast – Honey Honey is the sweetest chocolate I’ve had from Old Coal. It has a dark chocolate shell, dark chocolate ganache, and yummy liquid honey layer. We chose the Canadian Breakfast tea – our strongest black tea – to go with the Honey Honey as a contrast to the sweet, gooey chocolate. Any tea drinker that puts honey in their tea knows that this is a winning pair!
Dark Chocolate & Marzipan Rooibos – Dark chocolate is the bitterest chocolate, so we balanced this out with nutty, sweet Marzipan rooibos, one of my favourite teas. This was delicious!
White Chocolate & Sencha Green – As mentioned above, green tea and white chocolate are a popular match. I’d stick with an unflavoured green if you’re pairing with white chocolate as flavoured green teas will overpower the chocolate.
Milk Chocolate & Chai – Sweet chocolate and spicy chai are the best kind of contrast. A strong black chai with or without milk goes exceptionally well with smooth milk chocolate.
If you’re looking for a fun and creative way to spoil your mom for Mother’s Day, treat her to some quality chocolate and premium loose leaf tea so she can do her own chocolate and tea pairing party. Maybe she’ll share?
PS. Old Coal is running a contest until May 9 for you to win a one-of-a-kind box of chocolates for you AND your mom (or another influential figure in your life) by suggesting a chocolate flavour that is inspired by that fabulous person! Last year’s winning flavour was Mimosa. Check out @oldcoal on Instagram to enter.