Well, a cup of tea could be your timely saviour this Valentine’s Day 2022. Research revealed that the black tea brew (BTB) of the Camella Sinensis leaves can deal with certain forms of sexual inadequacies (e.g., impaired libido, premature ejaculation). The catch? The study was made on rats. Still, it showed the amazing aphrodisiac nature of the tea — amongst the drink’s long list of health benefits, of course.
Then, who can argue chocolate is a long-hailed symbol of desire? Not only is the sweet treat a delicious mouth-watering experience, but also is proven to enhance sexual pleasure. To boot, chocolate triggers the release of some serious mood enhancers: serotonin and phenethylamine.
All things considered, marrying chocolate and tea as one should bring about one unforgettable momentous Day of Hearts for you. However, it’s really not as simple as that. And yet, have no fear. Here’s a most opportune guide to help you know which tea and chocolate pairing are best for you to complete your Valentine’s like no other. Read on.
Best of Both Worlds: The East Meets the West
If this was a marriage, you’d be surprised at how similar tea and chocolate are. You might even say they are a perfect match. But a closer look will tell you these two entities are worlds apart.
Everyone’s Cup of Tea: From China to the WorldThe British, priding themselves on drinking tea for ages, may lay claim to the concoction as a quintessentially British drink. And yet, the Camella Sinensis plant where tea comes from is a native of China and was only introduced to England over three centuries ago, specifically in the 1650s.
- Legend has it that Chinese Emperor Shen Nung “the Divine Healer” accidentally discovered the merits of drinking tea in 2737 BC while resting underneath a tree. Some leaves happen to drop into the boiled drinking water. A closer look revealed those leaves were from the Camella Sinensis plant. And that’s how tea was born.
The English played a hand in the spread of tea production. To compete with the vast resources afforded by China, English tea gardens were introduced in 1837 India starting at Chabua in Upper Assam. Of course, the plants used came from China. As the years go by, vast tracts of land were eventually consumed.
So, while the English and the rest of the world have enjoyed the healing nature of tea for centuries, the Chinese have done so for millenniums. It’s no accident that the drink has been often associated with the deity as a gift from above.
Today, tea stands undisputed as the #1 drink in the world, second only to water. U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reveals about six billion cups are consumed daily on the planet. And that’s a conservative estimate.
Tea quickly spread to the masses once introduced to the West. The wondrous drink was presented in the early 17th century to King Charles II of England by the East India Company. However, it was Princess Catherine of Braganza, his Portuguese wife, that led the way introducing it to the aristocrats.
It was but a matter of time for the drink to trickle to the masses. The nootropic drink eventually became Great Britain’s national pastime beating coffee, alcohol and chocolate in the process. Today, kettles are always on for a timely brew all over the country.
Sweets for Your Sweet: From the Americas to the WorldOn the other end of the spectrum, you have chocolate, the ever-so-delicious snack that everyone just can’t resist. The sweet confection we know today is a product from the fruits of cacao trees, native to South and Central America.
Dubbed as pads, these fruits contain about 40 cacao beans. Like fresh coffee beans, these cacao beans are bitter in taste and thus need to be dried then roasted to perfection. In the process, they transform into cocoa in the process.
Once roasted, the shell of the cacao bean is then removed to produce cacao nibs. Once ground, these nibs become pure chocolate albeit in rough form.
- Record points to 450 BC when the first traces of pure chocolate appeared in Mesoamerica. Though believed to be a gift of the god of wisdom, Quetzalcoatl, chocolate was a far cry from the mouth-watering treat we know today. Prepared as a drink, chocolate was glaringly bitter mixed with corn puree or spices.
Hence, the name chocolate came from Nahuatl word “xocolatl”. “Xococ” means bitter and “atl” means drink or water.
Before the Spanish conquest of the Americas that began with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean in 1492, various cultures made much use of chocolate.
The Olmecs, the earliest known Mesoamerican civilization, revered chocolate as a medicinal drink fit for religious rites. The Mayans (950 - 1539) of Southeastern Mexico depicted the drink’s consumption on their vases giving thanks to their Cacao god, Ek Chuah. They even used it as a currency, attesting to the all-encompassing nature of the chocolate.
The Aztecs (1300 - 1521) in central Mexico regarded it as an aphrodisiac best gifted to men during banquets and included as rations for soldiers. A glorious example is the 16th-century ruler Montezuma who noticed his prowess to “please the ladies” greatly improved after drinking cocoa.
Once introduced to Spain courtesy of Columbus, chocolate’s fame grew steadily. Initially, the bitter drink was used by the Spaniards as a treatment for abdominal pain. But once sweetened, the glorified fluid easily became a court favourite.
Pretty soon, Europe was in frenzy over the sweet concoction. A thriving slave market flourished between the 17th and the 19th centuries to meet burgeoning demands as cacao bean processing was mainly manual.
Innovations followed. Thanks to Daniel Peter, for instance, milk chocolate was born in 1875 using the milk powder invented by Henri Nestle (founder of Nestle). And Valentine’s Day was never the same.
Tea and Chocolate: Perfect Combination
Both tea and chocolate caught the attention of emperors, kings and queens. Ultimately, however, chocolate, more often than not, has been thought of as a sinful treat while tea had been associated with a slew of health benefits.
Of course, perception played a part in all this. While chocolate has become a go-to gift for lovers and loved ones, the sweet treat’s high fat/calorie content gave it a bad rep, not to mention people’s propensity to overindulge on it. However, you’d be surprised about how much nutrients chocolate has.
For starters, know that both tea and chocolate contain generous amounts of antioxidants. That shouldn’t be a surprise as both are plant extracts. In hindsight, both have been used as traditional medicine. The table below should be an eye-opener.
Tea and Chocolate Against Major Diseases
- EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)
With all these nutrients in place in tea and chocolate, combining them should pose a bright idea for you. But there’s a hitch: taste. You can’t actually just mix and match or you might end up with a bad combination that won’t please your mouth.
Still, it’s true. The right combination of chocolate and tea can give you just the momentum to spark your romance this Heart’s Day 2022.
The Best Chocolate-Tea Combo this Valentine’s
Like tea, the source of the cacao beans matter. Terroir plays a huge role in the production of fine chocolate. And just like the tea leaves, the topographical characteristics of an area (e.g., altitude, soil, climate) affect the eventual flavour of the cacao product.
By the same token, craftsmanship is also another critical factor that affects the quality of a product. Only the best artisans can produce the best tea products; the same is true for chocolate.
To obtain the best tea-chocolate pairings (and up your Valentine prospects), you need to understand the subtleties of flavour. While encountering a “horrible” combination may not be common, there are certainly better options than other pairings could offer.
Thus, the way to move forward is to understand the principles behind what creates a great flavour combination. Remember that both tea and chocolate have distinct flavours. So identifying which pairings gel like they’re MFEO (made for each other) and which are not compatible should be key. Here’s a quick look:
There are lots of white chocolate brands to date; remembering each one can easily put your head in a spin. At its core, white chocolate is cocoa butter mixed with milk and sugar. It harbours no cocoa solids. On the other hand, dark choco and milk choco come from making use of the cocoa bean’s non-fat part, in varying degrees. In a sense, white chocolate isn’t chocolate in the strictest sense of the word. Instead of the cocoa main ingredient common to dark and milk chocolates, it uses cocoa butter which is a pale yellow vegetable fat that has a cocoa flavour and aroma. In short, it doesn’t have any cocoa particles.
Of course, each white chocolate brand differs in taste. Details such as the kind and amount of milk used and the kind and amount of sugar used would definitely make each brand vary in taste, not to mention the presence of added ingredients.
White chocolate defining taste is sweetness. When pairing chocolate to tea, the rule of thumb is to pair sweet with sweet. However, you still stand a good chance of finding unique pairings that use white chocolate’s ability to tone down bitter flavours.
So, for starters, think about the host of flavours that are associated with flavoured white chocolate. These usually are lemon, coconut, berries and macadamia nuts. Refer to these flavours as your taste guide when choosing the right kind of tea for the occasion.
It’s actually a great fit. Dragonwell boasts of gorgeous fruity flavours. So the hazelnut, chestnut along with macadamia notes would provide a spot-on pairing for your white chocolate.
Well, you might say opposites attract. Indeed, you’d be surprised how one of the most “bitter” green teas on the planet would fit white chocolate. To a large degree, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle.
But when you mix matcha and white chocolate, you’d be in awe. It must be how the first Englishman felt when he experimented with sugar and milk on black tea. The end result when you combine white chocolate and matcha is glorious. The creaminess of the sweet confection tones down the bitterness of matcha.
Another great combination is that of white chocolate and jasmine-scented green tea. In a way, you’d give yourself a timely feast for your eyes and nose. Jasmine-scented green tea smells sweet thanks to the flowery accent it carries. Such sweetness is highlighted even more with the sweetness of white choco.
Now milk chocolate is real chocolate. Its cacao ingredient ranges from 10 to 40%. Added to that are milk solids, milk fat and of course, sweeteners. When you find a brand that says it melts in your mouth, it’s highly likely you’re looking at a milk choco brand.
The good news is milk choco is considered to be the most versatile when it comes to tea pairings. So when you a spicy tea blend and black tea would have no problem combining with it.
With that said, experimenting with milk choco and tea pairings would be most welcome. But a generally safe path is to use black tea sans the milk. Know that if the tea is of high quality, adding milk would make the nuanced flavours a lot more subdued. That added creaminess may hide the meticulously crafted chocolate brand.
Milk choco would work well with black tea. But it’s recommended you forego the added milk routine. If you want to taste the full breadth of the tea/milk choco combination, adding milk may not be wise.
The Japanese “brown rice green tea” is another splendid match for milk chocolate. Take note that Genmaicha boasts of a certain milkiness that harbours nutty, salty flavours. Its buttered creamy notes would complement well with milk choco.
If you want to maximize the health benefits you get from cacao beans, then dark chocolate is your go-to choco. It is a rich source of minerals and antioxidants as it contains more cocoa than any other chocolate type. That means it’s more chocolatey and leaves a more powerful imprint on the palate.
All that means you have one brave chocolate type you can pair with just about any tea on the market without fear of being subdued. Or overshadowed. So, you can mix and match it with spicy or sweet tea flavours.
Think of dark choco as a muscled heavyweight boxer. It can pair itself with any strong teas without the prospects of losing its identity in the process. So if you want to experiment with extremely bold and tannic-heavy tea offerings, dark choco should be able to take it on.
High-quality green tea would complement dark choco. Take note that far too often, the flavours and aroma of green tea may be too nuanced to overpower the strong and powerful presence of dark chocolate.
Any Chinese black tea, even the strong ones can be a good complement to dark choco. Thus, aged Puerh should be a top choice. Even a bud will do.
You can experiment with your oolong to pair with dark choco. You may use oolong with ultra-rich cinnamon notes. That should be perfect. Moreover, even those with honey undertones can be a good match.
If you are dealing with fine chocolate, flavoured teas may not be a good pair. When you do, all the blended and artificial flavours that the chocolatier would want to deliver may be lost, overpowered by the tea flavour. Overwhelming aromas and overwhelming tastes may produce a rather unpleasant dining experience. Of course, you can experiment. Still, it all comes to personal choices.
At the end of the day, it’s all about choice. What we’ve given you are failsafe choices so Valentine’s Day with your special someone will be most unforgettable with the best chocolate and tea combination in town.