Tea is an art shared by numerous cultures since the 3rd century C.E. Its preparation and consumption is a ritual that relaxes the body and mind and intrigues the senses with its combination of simplicity and aromatic complexity.
Chocolate was invented in 1900 B.C.E. but is now widely available in all of its forms, qualities, and nuances. Although chocolate and tea originated on different sides of the globe, they have similarities that bind them in an unusual culinary relationship.
This December, the Elmwood Inn Fine Tea Shop in Danville is offering three classes on pairing tea and chocolate.
With the holiday, and final exams, approaching, now is the perfect time to take a step back from the grind of Centre and pour yourself a cup of tea. Tea has been a part of meditative practices for centuries and can remedy acute stress if approached with the right mindset.
Bruce Richardson is the tea maestro that teaches the classes and his son, Ben Richardson, provided me with some insight about the class and tea.
I asked Ben what is it about chocolate that makes it pair so well with tea and he replied they have many of the same characteristics. Some teas he said, like the bourbon barrel black tea, have notes of caramel and vanilla, which complement the notes in the chocolate.
Some of the previous pairings that have been presented in classes are Indian chai and milk chocolate, earl grey lavender with French paste truffles, and Lapsang Souchong with salted caramels.
I asked senior and tea connoisseur, Michael Greathouse, for his opinion on the relationship between chocolate. He replied, “Chocolate and tea share similar earthy undertones, but you should choose a tea that is bold enough to stand up to the bitterness of the chocolate. If you are consuming chocolate and tea together, the chocolate can easily overpower the tea.”
Tea is more of an indulgence in the summer and fall months, but as winter approaches, tea begins to serve a more practical purpose. It provides a caffeine boost to push you through heavy workloads and serves as a warm beverage alternative to coffee or hot chocolate.
Elmwood Inn has a special tea for the holidays, Christmas in a Cup, which has notes of orange, cloves, and cinnamon, and would pair perfectly with many holiday confections
The classes are one hour long and include a tea basics portion. So anyone, regardless of tea experience, will be able to learn something. There is only one class on December 1st with spots still open, so reserve your spot before they fill up!