I taste a lot of chocolate. My personal purist preferences run to plain chocolate bars but I have never been known to turn my nose up at a well done confection. I can work my way through a box of See’s faster than you can say ‘Nuts and Chews‘. Lately there are a variety of new confectioners on the scene who become breathless as they describe their out of this world, previously unknown bon bon combinations. Some of these new confections work, some do not.
I recently had the opportunity to taste a new collection of fine chocolates created and co-branded by Charles Chocolates and Teance Fine Teas. At first thought chocolate and tea may seem an unusual combination but only because it has not been explored in depth. It may be that the combination works because the cacao seed undergoes many of the same flavor developing processes that tea does, namely fermentation and drying. There are a few chocolate bars on the market that add dried tea leaves to plain chocolate and call it a day. This new collection goes beyond the simple stirring of ingredients together. Experienced alchemists are at work here. By infusing cream with the highest grade teas and then adding milk and bittersweet chocolate to create a ganache, Chef Marika Doob of Charles Chocolates and Winnie Yu of Teance Fine Teas have created a new dimension of chocolates.
The elegance of the signature handmade edible chocolate box hints at the sublime flavors of the chocolates inside. The lid shows a hand-drawn painting of the tea mountains of China. The chocolates are inscribed with the handwritten Chinese characters that describe each of the five different flavors: Formosa Baochong, Special Jasmine, Osmanthus, Lichee and Charcoal Roasted Oolong.
Now, how can you enjoy these new confections? You can purchase them on line from Charles Chocolates. Or you can go to Teance’s new Tea Shop in Berkeley at 1780 Fourth Street, between Peet’s and The Pasta Shop. The new tea shop will be pouring Tasting Flights, ranging in price from $11.00 to $15.00 per flight. Suggested pairings of individual chocolates are available for an additional charge.