Tea and chocolate. More daddy or chips than port and Stilton surely? That’s what I thought as I wended my sticky and hot way through sunbaked Fitzrovia trying to find Tapped and Packed, where I was to participate in a tea, coffee and chocolate matching evening run by Green & Blacks.
Coffee and chocolate, that I could see. They’ve closed the curtains on a multitude of meals from Turkish grills to Aussie seafood. I just couldn’t see fine teas standing up to a deep and bitter 75% cocoa dark chocolate. Just goes to show how much I know.
One of the reasons these sort of events are fun is that you get to hear from people who really know their stuff. in this case Micah Carr-Hill from Green & Blacks who fed us titbits like the fact cocoa beans are cut with banana leaves to start the fermentation process, or that the human tongue can detect particles 20 microns wide.
We also heard from Timothy D’Offay of Postcard Teas, and Victor Frankowski of Tapped and Packed who took us through their coffees, mostly while whizzing in wired way around behind his coffee machine arms waving and eyes whirling. This was someone who clearly loved what he did (and drank a LOT of coffee).
What blew me away was the effect combining of black and green teas with chocolate. It caused some sort of taste explosion. Of particular note was Master Xu’s Rou Gui oolong which tasted a little fruity, but when combined with chocolate opened up all these new layers of flavour like a flower opening to the sun.
Along with the usual nutty, slightly sweet tea flavours, I could taste fruit and herbs, an underlying deliciously smooth bitterness from the chocolate – everything complemented and improved on everything else. It was a most unexpected and delightful experience.
That was the best of the bunch, but it was by no means the only good match. A strong Sencha lost it’s pondy flavour and became grassy and herbasceous with the addition of a creamy milk chocolate and a smooth black clean coffee blended beautifully into a perfectly bitter sweet digestif.