Monday, 10 May 2010

Tea Chocolates - A Review

Since hearing quite a bit recently about combining chocolate and tea, I have been intrigued by the concept. I have been wanting to try making my own matcha or Earl Grey cakes and/or biscuits but still haven't managed it yet. So, I was very excited to receive a box of tea chocolates from Matcha Chocolat in the post.


This box of tea chocolates was the Emperor's Selection and was beautifully presented in pink with Matcha Chocolat's distinctive Chinese teapot logo on the sides. The chocolates looked so good when I lifted off the lid, that I experienced conflicting emotions - get stuck in or just look at them with awe. These are definitely chocolates for savouring rather than wolfing down in the traditional British boorish style (or maybe that's just us). Patience was called for however, as I first had to charge up the camera batteries and take photographs. As consolation, I had a good sniff and picked up a rich fruity scent. This could have been the result of the Valrhona chocolate used to enrobe some of the tea ganaches, which is renowned for having fruity qualities.

The chocolates are all handmade using fresh and often organic ingredients from an artisan choclatier whose ethics are very much at the heart of what she does. This of course gets my vote!


Uji Matcha - Beautifully decorated in a way that would be instantly recognisable to a Japanese person, this green tea ganache was enrobed in milk chocolate with a floral design. There was a slight, but noticeable green tinge to the ganache which was particularly smooth in the mouth. The matcha flavour is pronounced but not overpowering but leaves an almost savoury aftertaste on the palate - which is much nicer than it sounds. CT was transported straight back to Japan as the flavour of matcha is so distinctive and captured the taste of Japan for him.


Jasmine Silver Needles - This was the most stunning to look at with its beautiful creamy white dome topped off with gold leaf which glittered delightfully. There was no detectable fragrance of jasmine before biting through the chocolate, but once inside the scent was released. The ganache was particularly creamy with a delicate but penetrating flavour of jasmine tea.


Masala Chai - There was no mistaking this one, it tasted just like a good cup of chai should do, warm, spicy, milky and sweet with the tea notes coming through loud and clear but by no means overwhelming the whole chocolate experience. The firm dark chocolate contrasted well with the soft milk chocolate ganache inside. The spicy notes of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves and aniseed lingered on for quite some time after the last vestiges had disappeared. Topped off with a sliver of crystallised ginger, this was a classy comfort food.


Midnight Peony - The dark chocolate casing had a strong fruity aroma which reminded us both of berries. However, once bitten into there was an immediate heady smell of alcohol followed very soon after by an unexpected smokey taste as though we were transported back in time to the Verandah of the Raffles hotel, white suited & posh frocked with mandatory cigarette holders in hand. The smokey flavour was certainly strong, but by no means unpleasant and combined well with the milk chocolate ganache. Interesting.


Blackcurrant Bliss - A smooth milk chocolate ganache enrobed with milk chocolate and a blackcurrant on top. We left this one until last as I thought the blackcurrant would dominate our palates for subsequent tastings. In fact it was quite subtle and very different to the crudity of certain blackcurrant and sugar beverages. Less is more in this case. The taste of black tea, Assam in this case, was noticeable though not overpowering.

As a drinker of green and white tea, I am not particularly fond of the black stuff, but I really loved these tea chocolates - all of them. I'm not even sure I could pick out a favourite if truth be told. They all challenged perceptions of what a chocolate should be and they all did it in the nicest possible way. Now I feel I should really do what I've been wanting to do for so long and make my own tea confections.

25 comments:

  1. I admire the restraint that must have gone into photographing them all so nicely!

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  2. These look fabulous, very nicely made. Unfortunately, I don't like tea, so these wouldn't be my first choice, but they would make a great gift :)

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  3. Choclette.
    Your the right person to be testing, tasting and reviewing this. Beautifully presented too. I'm not a big chocolate fan. But I know someone in my house who loves both chocolate and Tea. So think this would be most welcomed.

    I think i'd pinch the Masala chai, though.

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  4. Oooooooooooooh lucky you to get such a treat in the post! They look so pretty but I'm sure I would have been able to eat them after I had spent some time admiring them ;0)

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  5. i love chocolates and these are so yummy looking ones..very hard to resist...

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  6. Oh my, they look and sound delicious. Midnight peony for me I think.

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  7. These look delicious! Lucky you!

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  8. ooh you lucky thing. They look great, I love chai tea. In fact my DH's first present to me was a tin of tea! We are both very keen on tea, I can imagine that tea and choc would be as good as coffee & choc.

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  9. Caked Crusader - it was not in the least bit easy!

    Jacqueline - if you don't like tea these may not be for you. I'm not keen on black tea at all, but did like these.

    MangoCheeks - thank you - just keep hoping choclatiers get the hint.

    Chele - they were a treat, but I did have to work for it.

    Sushma - I don't get to eat really nice chocolates very often, so it was a treat indeed.

    Kath - interesting one that. You are obviously much more sophisticated than me.

    Lucie - they were really good

    Janice - even I like Chai tea and I'm not really a fan of black teas. Love the idea of tea as your first present.

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  10. Hey Choclette, I have just recreated another one of your recipes. I find it hard to resist. I wanted to email you, but I couldn't find your email address. May I reproduce the recipe for your spicy orange brownies? I will of course give you full credit and link to you and the post.

    Jac
    tinnedtomatoes@googlemail.com
    xx

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  11. Great review Chcolette! These sound like a perfect gift for my tea and chocolate loving step mother! I usually avoid flavoured chocolates apart from the traditional pairings but these have definitely made me curious. Joanna

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  12. Macha frappuccino is my husband's Western treat of choice when abroad and needing the reassurance of Starbucks speak.
    More tea-related treats at the Hummingbird bakery, have a look at this
    http://thebeatthatmyheartskipped.co.uk/index.php/2010/04/30/green-tea-cupcakes-from-the-hummingbird-bakery/

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  13. Of course Jac - it's really nice that you want to use the recipe.

    Thank you Joanna - I'd certainly be interested in what others think about these.

    Oxslip - it doesn't sound desperately Western - at least the matcha bit anyway. Thank you for pointing me in the way of this recipe, it looks like a good one. CT brought some matcha tea powder back with him from Japan so could use it in these cupcakes.

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  14. What gorgeous looking chocolates. I had my first attempt at tempering last weekend, so these flavours are a good incentive to try again... try again yes, my tempering was... lacking, shall we say? (And we followed 'Adventures in Chocolate' instructions too)
    Back to your chocolates- the chai one sounds divine!

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  15. Choclette, what a fabulous post - thank you! I'm so glad you held off long enough to take a photo - what a beautiful presentation! And every single chocolate sounded interesting, obviously a lot of thought had gone into the combinations. I love that - when artisans are so obsessed with their craft that they work on perfecting individual and different pieces...

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  16. Choclette, I savoured every descriptive word of that review. And now I am dying to try Blackcurrant Bliss ...

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  17. CityHippy - oh well done for trying tempering and what a shame it didn't work out. Celia has a different method for tempering on her blog - perhaps you could try that. I hope Paul isn't going to let everyone down. The first thing I've made from his book didn't quite work out either - ohhhh!

    Celia - thank you for you lovely comments. My photography is so hit and miss and I don't have a lot of patience. I'm just so impressed with the patience you choclatiers have.

    Gillian - the blackcurrant bliss only?

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  18. Choclette- I did do the truffles from his book the other day and they were superb, so there is still hope. I actually did a chai one after reading your post from the tea selection- oh sweet mama, yep its good.

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  19. Oooh, they really do look good, even to a non tea drinker. I am a confirmed chocoholic though ;-) Great review!

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  20. They look extraordinary! I must keep these in mind as presents for tea-lovers.

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  21. CityHippy - glad the truffles worked out well and that some things from Paul's book works. I'm most impressed and I bet your chai truffles were scrumilicious.

    C - I'm not much of a tea drinker either, but I did like these.

    FoodyCat - I hope they look tasty too.

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  22. These look incredible-I have never had chocolate mixed with tea-The Earl Grey Tea combo sounds delicious.

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  23. Esme, this was a first for me too - definitely different, but very good.

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  24. Oh my, you had me drooling over these wonder babies! Gosh, look so addictive! Luckily, I put on my napkin before entering here. hehe...

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  25. Kristy - Always useful to have a napkin when exploring the food blogosphere I find :)

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