Okay, I’m not ashamed to say that I was deeply intimidated by this tea. When my TeaFrog box arrived, the only thing I smelled when I opened it was chocolate and spice — and it was all coming from this one sample bag. I wrapped the sample bag (unopened) in a second bag and put that in a cannister, and still that entire corner of my kitchen was overwhelmed by chocolate and spices. I made myself a cup tonight because it seemed like a good night for it, but also in a bit of self-defense!
I was surprised, then, to find that the steeping tea smelled hardly of chocolate at all. The predominant spice when dry had been ginger; brewing, the peppercorns met up with the ginger and began taking over. I was too impatient to steep it for very long, and began sipping it from a spoon right away. The tea itself is a reddish-brown, not dark but rather murky in a way that matches the spicy scent.
Hot, it tastes almost entirely of peppercorns, but it’s very smooth underneath (is this where the chocolate comes in?). There’s a peppery tingle on the tongue and a gingery tingle at the back of the mouth — this is not a tea that’s sitting still to be drunk! And I was quite right to wait until I had an evening to savor it, because this is a tea that demands my full attention while drinking. As it’s cooling, there’s a little more chocolate flavor coming through, almost like the peppercorns, having made their point, have decided to graciously back off a step and let the other ingredients have their say.
ETA: A second steeping, at five and a half minutes, brings out rather more chocolate; I would still call this a pepper tea with chocolate and ginger flavors, but it’s an interesting change. It’s also distinctly darker from the longer steeping.
And now the quandary: I want more of this tea, but I’m not sure I dare acquire an entire tin of it lest my entire kitchen wind up smelling as though my spice rack and my cocoa powder just staggered in together after a wild night on the town.