How to Pair Tea and Chocolate
May 14, 2021
Could there be a more delicious duo than tea and chocolate? Each of these culinary delights is wonderful on its own, but when intentionally paired together? A match made in heaven!
Not only is pairing tea with chocolate a positively decadent experience, it can also help unlock those more subtle flavors and aromas that you might not pick up when enjoying one or the other on its own. A successful pairing will enable you to experience the nuances of both the tea and the chocolate individually, as well as explore new flavors through the interplay of their flavor, aroma, sweetness, bitterness, texture and intensity.
Tea and chocolate share many commonalities. Just as the tea leaf to cup journey influences the quality and taste of tea, the cacao bean to bar journey influences the quality and taste of chocolate. Terroir — the climate, weather, elevation, soil and terrain in which the tea leaves or cacao beans are grown — has a significant impact on the final flavor, aroma and mouthfeel.
Guidelines for Pairing Tea and Chocolate
The key to preparing a successful tea and chocolate tasting is to ensure the flavor profiles are well-balanced. We recommend selecting high quality chocolates with varying percentages of cacao, including a white chocolate, milk chocolate and one or more dark chocolates. You may select teas that have complementing or contrasting flavors; both experiences will heighten the flavor and aroma of the chocolate, and vice versa.
To begin the tasting process, take a small bite of chocolate and allow it melt slowly and thoroughly across the tongue. Then slurp some of the tea into the back of your mouth to ensure it reaches all of your taste buds. Slurping rather than sipping will draw air into the mouth, intensifying the flavors and aromas.
Take another small bite of the chocolate, and notice how the tea has influenced its mouthfeel, flavor and aroma compared to the first bite. Does it taste sweeter? More bitter? Nuttier, fruitier or more floral? At this point you may choose to cleanse your palate with a sip of water and reverse the process: taste the tea, have a bite of chocolate, followed by a second tasting of tea to see which changes you notice.
Teas to Pair with Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate may contain anywhere from 10% to 55% cacao, along with cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids or powder. This ingredient list is what gives milk chocolate its sweet, smooth taste and creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Milk chocolate tends to be the most versatile type of chocolate for pairing with tea. Because of its creamy, milky consistency, milk chocolate can help to balance the bold, robust flavors and high tannin content of strong black teas. Teas accented with warming spices like chai tea are also a good match for milk chocolate.
Recommended Tea and Milk Chocolate Pairings:
- British Breakfast – Savory Indian, Sri Lankan and Kenyan tea leaves give this tea a hearty, robust flavor. Tastes exquisite served with a splash of milk and sugar, making it the perfect pairing for milk chocolate.
- Tea of Inquiry – This Sencha green tea has a robust flavor and warm, toasty notes. Pairing it with a creamy milk chocolate can open up the nutty, savory flavors.
- Chai Stackable Tin – Enjoy the experience of pairing milk chocolate with three delicious, uniquely flavored chai teas: earthy and chocolatey Mushroom Cacao Chai; spicy-sweet Bold Green Chai; and hearty, malty Bold Black Chai.
- HiCAF® Caramel Black Tea – Robust black tea with smooth, sweet caramel notes will naturally complement and balance the flavors of milk chocolate.
Teas to Pair with Dark Chocolate
Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate has a high concentration of cacao — at least 55%, and up to 100% (though typically not more than 90%). The flavor of dark chocolate is powerful and rich, with bitter notes.
Dark chocolate is slightly trickier to pair with tea than milk chocolate. Selecting a tea that is too astringent can overwhelm your taste buds with bitterness. At the same time, delicate teas will be overpowered by the strong cacao flavor of dark chocolate.
Strike a happy medium by pairing your dark chocolate with moderately bold teas, like those with fruity, smoky, ginger, nutty, spicy or mint flavors. Aged teas such as pu-erh can also be a good choice for pairing with dark chocolate.
Recommended Tea and Dark Chocolate Pairings:
- PassionFruit Papaya Black Tea – Tropical passionfruit, papaya and pineapple layered over fine black tea will bring out the natural sweetness of intense 80+% chocolate.
- Vanilla Almond Black Tea – The smoothness of Madagascar vanilla beans takes over the first sip of this black tea, creating a decadent multilayered tasting experience.
- Earl Greyer – The addition of Bergamot Orange to fine Ceylon black tea gives this blend a unique flavor profile that pairs beautifully with dark chocolates.
- Ginger Peach Black Tea – Savor the taste of sweet, lush peach and zesty ginger as you pair this exceptional tea with rich 80+% dark chocolate.
Teas to Pair with White Chocolate
White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder, without the cacao solids contained in milk and dark chocolate. This confection lacks any trace of bitterness, and is purely sweet, smooth and buttery. It also has the creamiest mouthfeel of all chocolates.
Thanks to its sweet flavor and creamy consistency, white chocolate can hold its own against strong bitter, vegetal and grassy teas, such as matcha. White chocolate also pairs beautifully with nutty and floral favor profiles.
Recommended Tea and White Chocolate Pairings:
- Daily Matcha – 100% premium Japanese matcha is the perfect pairing for white chocolate. Creamy, sweet white chocolate balances the bitterness of matcha while creating a luxurious mouthfeel.
- Jasmine Jazz Green Tea – Rare Yin Hao green tea leaves and jasmine blossoms give this cup a light, clean fragrance. Sweet, milky white chocolate will serve as a delightful contrast.
- Big Green Hojicha Tea – Roasted Japanese green tea leaves yield an earthy, woody and nutty taste. Pairs deliciously with pure white chocolate.
- Organic Thai Ginger SuperHerb® Tea – The zing of spicy-sweet Thai ginger and lemongrass beautifully balances the sweetness of white chocolate, while delivering a delicious contrast.
Be sure to approach your tea and chocolate pairing with a sense of adventure, and take notes on which combinations you enjoy the most. Interested in learning more about the nuances of tasting tea? Read our guide on How to Taste Tea the Right Way, or learn How to Pair Tea and Cheese next.