Paul A Young has done it – from a white chocolate bar speckled through with shards of green jasmine tea, to the irresistible Yorkshire Tea and biscuit ganache. Over at Melt, they’ve done a dark chocolate green tea bonbon, Earl Grey with a touch of rose, and a dark chocolate with Matcha.
But the haute chocolatiers Prestat think they were one of the country’s tea and chocolate pioneers, as managing director Bill Keeling told me when I caught up with him at the Speciality Chocolate fair.
Prestat came up with idea of using that quintessentially English tea, Earl Grey, ten years ago, sourced from their former South Moulton Street neighbours, HR Higgins.
They ground the tea into a fine, loose powder and mixed it into cocoa butter to infuse the flavours together, adding a dash of extra bergamot oil before turning it into a ganache. Radically, they favoured mixing it with milk chocolate into their trademark wafer thins.
Keeling says the thins swiftly became best-sellers, especially in that other nation of tea lovers, Japan. The success inspired a second chocolate, made specifically for that Far Eastern market, incorporating one of the country’s favourite teas, Sikkam.
A year ago came a white chocolate mixed with Matcha and a tiny hint of bergamot, and most recently a new chocolate bar, the friskily named Tea Time Frolics. That one, using milk chocolate again, mixes Earl Grey with a twist of essential lemon oil: it’s been on the market since May.
Prestat’s tea range is proving so popular there’s now another variety in the works, in time for winter – a hot chocolate, paired with chai spices, which should be available in about six weeks time.
Up in North Lincolnshire, self-styled Botanical chocolatier and inveterate tea drinker Fiona Sciolti has been working with various teas for about six years. “A lot of tea based products use inverted sugars and I thought it would be lovely to use our local honey instead, something much more natural.”
She started working with Susan Gregory from Pause Teas, and has recently linked up with Equalitea who’ve won a host of Great Taste Awards for their blends: Fiona says she was especially impressed by their green tea with lychee pears – which even boasts its own Youtube video.
She favours dark chocolate for most of her tea based ganaches: “They really lend themselves to dark chocolate, it’s a wonderful carrier for all those flavours. Normally we use a 60% version, but we’ve got a 70% to use with lapsang as it needs a robust dark chocolate to match all those smokey notes”.
Her tea range, like the rest of her chocolates, is seasonal: for early summer there’s a fragrant jasmine, while later in the year there’s a peppermint and liquorice ganache which Fiona describes as “phenomenal”.
Proof, if it were needed, that tea is more than just a drink – but an ingredient in its own right.
Fancy a cuppa? Don’t mind if I do.
- Filed under tea.