Tea Writings

A blog about tea from the desk of Cecilia Tan

The Best of Chocolate Tea

December 14, 2010 By: ctan Category: Tea Reviews

For a lot of people the winter holiday season means chocolate. Hanukah gelt, Christmas stocking candy, chocolatey gifts, etc. So this seems a fitting time to finally put down some words about chocolate tea. I’ve been on a three-year quest now for the best chocolatey tea, and I can finally give you my results! Yes, I finally found some teas that not only taste somewhat of chocolate, they also go well while eating chocolate.

Caveat: what these teas are NOT is a substitute for hot chocolate made with milk and melted chocolate. If that’s what you crave, may I suggest L.A. Burdick? Or even the salted caramel hot chocolate they are pumping out at Starbucks these days? What we are discussing here are most definitely teas.

I tasted all of my test teas without milk or sugar, as that is how I take my tea. However, if brewed strong any of these would hold up to milk (or cream) and sugar (or honey). Many of the good chocolate teas have a chai-like aspect to them that lend to being prepared “masala style.”

To start with, I’ll begin with an anti-recommendation. My whole search for decent chocolate-flavored tea began with the purchase of Trader Joe’s decaffeinated chocolate tea in bags. I had bought it when on a low carb diet and I was looking for more flavor profiles to add to my day (and evening, hence the decaf) without adding calories or carbs. So I bought a box thinking, how bad could it be? In a word, AWFUL. Perhaps it might be tolerable with milk and sugar, but the flavor of just the steeped leaves is something akin to shavings of wall plaster. It tastes neither like chocolate, nor like tea. I seriously think steeping the cardboard box it came in would have rendered a more palatable drink. Trying it made me think, though, surely there must be something better out there?

So I set out to look. I tried a few other purported chocolate teas both at various tea shops and via mail order samples and found most of them unremarkable. None as bad as the TJ’s decaf, but none worth drinking again. Some of these came from Tealuxe, Teavana, and other suppliers. I did not save notes on them since I was not interested in a second cup of any of them.

Then in my Christmas stocking, a tea-loving friend gave me a package of Teavana’s “Haute Chocolate.” (Pun intended, I would think.) This is a roobois blend with cardamom, ginger, and chocolate. I immediately ran through the supply and had to purchase more, because I was drinking it almost every night. It was just plain delicious, and soothing. It’s now a staple in my tea stash. Its only drawback is that it’s roobois, not tea.

The next candidate to come close, but not quite win the prize, was also a gift from another friend. This one is the Chocolate Chai from Bar Harbor Tea Company. My friend picked up a small tin of it, perhaps having seen my Twitter rants about the sorry state of chocolate tea. This one was very reminiscent of the Haute Chocolate, but with a nicely robust black tea supporting it all. I not only recommend it, I am now eager to try some of the other Bar Harbor Teas.

I was starting to get the hint that the successful chocolate teas for my palate were the chai-like ones. The unfortunate thing about this is that if you don’t like cardamom, you are unlikely to love these teas. Fortunately for me, though, I like cardamom and other spices in my chocolate. (You should see the pile of Vosges bars I have stashed…)

Emboldened by these two entries that I liked, when I got a Groupon to purchase some hoity-toity tea from Talbott Teas, I opted for their Cocoa Cardamom Seduction. When I say hoity-toity I mean the following: Talbott Teas are the teas blended by Oprah’s hair stylist and sold in places like Bloomingdales. It is tea as a fashion accessory to your life if you are a rich housewife, or aspire to be one. However, having tasted two of Talbott’s blends so far, I have to say they were both outstanding. There is substance to the style. Cocoa Cardamom Seduction takes the Bar Harbor version up one more step and adds one more perfect note to the flavor profile: toasted almond. Brilliant. It adds the unctuous note (though no actual oiliness or fat) that is missing from the others that makes it more reminiscent of drinking chocolate than tea.

I was also pleased to find the Cocoa Cardamon Seduction very forgiving of both oversteeping and using too few leaves, and that it holds up to four re-steepings. This makes it the perfect morning tea for a strong black brew, and then I can steep it again after sundown for a chocolatey, hot treat that has been stripped of its caffeine.

I’m enjoying a pot of it right now, with a milk chocolate orange (the kind you smash against the table, kudos to Trader Joe’s on that one), and it goes beautifully. I have found the perfect chocolate tea for me.

P.S. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be happy to try more, if anyone has suggestions!

P.P.S. The Trader Joe’s decaf chocolate tea I found so objectionable has been discontinued anyway. So you’re safe.

Teavana Haute Chocolate: http://www.teavana.com/The-Teas/Rooibos-Teas/Haute-Chocolate-Rooibos-Tea.axd
$6.80 for 2 ounce pouch.

Bar Harbor Tea Co. Chocolate Chai: http://www.barharbortea.com/tea/product.php?productid=62&cat=0&page=1
$6.95 for 1.5 ounce tin

Talbott Tea Cocoa Cardamom Seduction: http://www.talbottteas.com/Cocoa_Cardamom_Seduction_Tea_p/tin-ccs.htm
$14 for 2.25 ounce tin

0 Comments to “The Best of Chocolate Tea”

  1. at a friend’s place a week ago, my husband had this great-smelling tea:

    he said it tasted good 🙂

    • oooh, jill, that looks like it could be yummy. I’ve had one or two of the other Revolution Teas and liked them but this is the first time I saw this. I bet it would go well with my TJ’s chocolate orange!

  2. Have you tried the cocoa rose tea at Sofra (across from Mt. Auburn Cemetery)? It is, essentially, excellent black tea, cacao nibs, and rose petals. My wife has made an admirably similar cocoa rose tea with some hearty organic Assam that we got at Christina’s, cacao nibs given to us by some friends, and rose petals from an antique and very fragrant rose in our own garden.


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