We drink a lot of tea every day, and, interestingly enough, we have been asked by a few customers in the last few years if we would bring out a tea chocolate. We actually did a lapsang souchong bonbon many years ago when we were still finding our way round flavours, and then in 2015 we did a matcha white chocolate bar (it was sold out at the Chocolate Show in London) – but we never felt that these fit in well with our collection. We know that we want to do a tea-flavoured filled chocolate using tea from the Far East, rather than something like an Earl Grey.
Our favourite tea is oolong (above is a picture of the tea leaf used for making Alison Oolong - we visited this farm when we were in Taiwan), and we drink a lot of oolong teas produced in China – whether it’s Tie Guan Yin, Shui Xian, or Dai Hong Pao. In the past few years, we have been introduced to Taiwanese oolong. Last year when we went to Taiwan, we visited a few tea plantations to learn more about tea – from Alishan oolong, to red jade tea and Oriental Beauty tea in Hsinchu county.
It is quite handy that in the last 18 months we got to know Chau-Jean and Tim, the owners of Marulin, a London-based tea company specialising in Taiwanese teas. Chau-Jean’s family has their own tea farms in Nantou county in Taiwan – here’s a picture of Chau-Jean’s father at the farm.
I got to know Chau-Jean quite well because we have done a few tea and chocolate pairing events with the UK Tea Academy - so far we have paired about 10 different teas of hers with 10 different filled chocolates of ours. Our most recent event was about 2 weeks ago and it was an online event - how much we missed the in-person tea/chocolate pairing events that we did at UK Tea Academy in pre-Covid times in 2019!
We have been talking about developing a tea chocolate for over a year, and we decided to go with their Four Seasons Oolong as our chocolate called Taipei. This tea is picked all year round in Nantou and the surrounding area. If you are not familiar with oolong tea, the simplest way to describe it is that it’s between green tea and black tea, and it has more of a floral aroma than green tea and yet it has a more delicate flavour than many black teas.
During the development stage, as usual we tried using a range of dark, milk and white chocolate couverture to see what would work best. In the end we settled for a milk chocolate ganache and a dark chocolate shell. We found that dark chocolate in the ganache competes too much with the delicate flavour of the tea, while the milk chocolate brings out the characteristics of the Four Seasons Oolong tea better. However, when it comes to shell, a dark chocolate shell brings the sweetness level down a notch and brings a nice mix of tea and chocolate aftertaste in the finish.
For the design of this chocolate, we have opted for a simple yellow brushstroke style on the chocolate - we want to keep to the simplicity of oriental design in this chocolate. What do you think?
This chocolate is currently available in our new Discovery Box, and also in our Personal Selection Boxes.