I haven’t really read Steepster since at some point before Christmas, having been caught up in the holidays and avid reading of something else that was deemed a little more important to chew my way through at the time. There’s just no way I’m ever going to make it back through all of the Steepster posts I’ve missed. I’ve skimmed back a couple of days and I’m leaving it at that. If I missed anything important, please link me.
For the second tea of the new year, (the first being the orange pu-erh from Nothing But Tea, which Husband has developed an affinity for. You should have heard him try explain why earlier. He sounded like me on Steepster! LOL!) we had the next out of the 52teas Christmas box.
And once again I feel wary. I’m afraid I’ve had some sort of caveat with all the teas in box this year, although in some cases I’ve managed to overcome it. There are only two of the ones that are left that I’m actually looking forward to, so I suppose it’s been a bad 52teas year for me. I recall having better luck last year. Oh well, we can’t win them all, can we?
Anyway, the reason for my hesitation with this time is simply the fact that it’s chocolate flavoured and although I’ve had teas before with some sort of chocolate element to them, I’ve never ever found one that actually tasted properly of chocolate to me. I’m completely open to the idea of a chocolate flavoured tea, and the moment someone manages to make one that works I’ll be the first to swoon. But it hasn’t happened yet. The closest I’ve ever been are those black teas that have a strong naturally occurring note of cocoa. But those aren’t flavoured, and cocoa is not the same as chocolate.
It started out quite well. When I opened the envelope, the first note I noticed was something that reminded me of honey. A strong flower honey. This note persisted after brewing, and now also had a note of chocolate to it. Dark, heavy chocolate and in combination with the strong honey, the aroma of this tea struck me most of all as something akin to a dark chocolate toblerone. Husband thought it reminded him more of stepping into a heavily scented garden, which I consider to be in the same sort of category as my strong flower honey. There was a slight note of milk and of nuts as well.
When I took the first sip, it finally dawned on me why I’ve never managed to find a chocolate flavoured tea that works. When I get something with chocolate I expect a thick and slightly sticky texture, the sort of feeling one get from real chocolate melting on the tongue. When I then get a thin, watery mouthful of tea, it’s just not the same and it breaks the illusion of chocolate quite severely.
Add to this the fact that I might have rather different ideas of what constitutes as chocolate and what doesn’t than many of you Americans. Where I live, milk chocolate must contain at least 25% dry cocoa solids and dark chocolate at least 35% dry cocoa solids. Otherwise it’s not chocolate and is not allowed to be sold under the name of chocolate. The US rules for when chocolate is chocolate are based on how much chocolate liquor it contains, so it’s not directly translatable, but when reading about both it seems, if I understand it correctly, that the US will accept what amounts to less dry cocoa solids than the EU will. This supports my experience with Hershey’s Kisses which some undoubtedly well-meaning soul sent me once. They were quite, quite foul and had little to nothing to do with chocolate. Mind you, this was about a decade or so ago, so I suppose it’s possible that the quality of the product has been increased.
And all of this is why I don’t think this tea lives up to its name. At first there was the initial disappointment that once again a chocolate flavoured tea had failed to work. After having got over that, I could start paying attention to what it actually tasted like, and I have arrived at some very dark caramel. Slightly bitter, with a strong note of burnt sugar to it, but also with just a smidge of sweetness. I discussed this with Husband and while he hadn’t thought of that by himself, he agreed with my assession. It’s nice and all, but to us nothing in this cup even remotely resembles what we understand as ‘chocolate’.