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Tea of the Week for Feburary 4, 2019: White Chocolate Black Chai!

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 White Chocolate Black Chai!

Tea Description: If I'm completely honest, I'm not a big fan of white chocolate. I absolutely adore dark chocolate. I also love milk chocolate. I've often referred to myself as a chocoholic & it's dark chocolate - and to a somewhat lesser extent milk chocolate - that I'm addicted to. White chocolate - on the other hand - not so much. 

Oh, I like white chocolate OK but I certainly am not addicted to it. I could go weeks, months, even a couple of years without indulging in it & I doubt I'd even miss it. I will turn down white chocolate in many forms including white chocolate truffles & white chocolate ice cream. I probably wouldn't turn down a freshly baked white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, but if it isn't fresh & warm, I'd be more likely to turn it down. I guess what I'm trying to say is that - for the most part - white chocolate just comes off as too sweet for my palate. I prefer the complexity of a good quality dark chocolate over the sickly sweetness of white chocolate.

One exception to my anti-white chocolate snobbery would be as part of a black tea blend. I like the way the creaminess of the white chocolate works with the robust notes of the black tea. White white chocolate comes off as too sweet in confections, with tea, that sweetness finds a nice contrast with the rich flavor of black tea. It just works for me. 

White chocolate is one of those ingredients that I'm often asked to utilize in blends more often - so I decided to craft a chai blend using black tea to answer those requests, but I wanted to make this chai a little less ordinary. 

I started off ordinarily enough - with a rich blend of organic Assam teas - & added some of the "usual" masala spices: cinnamon, clove, cardamom, ginger & black pepper. Then I decided to use some pink & white peppercorns too as well as some bay leaf (white chocolate & bay leaf work together incredibly well) & of course, some white chocolate chips. (Vegan white chocolate, of course!) 

The result is a delicious, warmly-spiced but not too spicy (I didn't want to overwhelm the creaminess of the white chocolate too much), fragrant & sweet white chocolate-y cuppa yum that's not only vegan, but also gluten-free, nut-free & all-natural!

ingredients: white chocolate chips (sugar, palm oil, soy flour, emulsifiers, soy lecithin, cocoa butter, salt, flavors, vanillin)

organic ingredients: black teas, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, peppercorns (black, white & pink), bay leaves & natural flavors

I'm really pleased with how this turned out. As I mentioned in the above description, white chocolate isn't always my thing, but when it's part of a black tea blend (and to a lesser extent, part of other tea type blends) it works quite nicely. The depth and complexity of the tea plays well to what I consider the weaknesses of white chocolate (I don't consider them particularly deep or complex in flavor) and for it's part, white chocolate lends a pleasant sweetness and creaminess to a cup of black tea without overwhelming it - which is the general issue that I take with white chocolate - it tends to overwhelm my palate with it's sweetness - 'coating' my palate with an unpleasantly thick layer of sweetness that's just kind of ... one-note.

But here, the depth of the Assam plays well to that - and instead of that overwhelming sweet flavor, I'm enjoying a pleasant creaminess and hint of white chocolate flavor that allows for a somewhat "latte" kind of experience with the chai spices and tea without additions (although a pinch of sugar DOES enhance the spices just a wee bit). 

The sip offers up the usual spice expectations: cinnamon, clove, ginger an cardamom. There is a softer presence of pepper here with fewer black peppercorns going into the blend - and in their stead, I used pink and white peppercorns. I also used some bay leaf in this blend - and it lends a little more to the fragrance of the tea than the overall flavor, but as I sip it, I do notice just a little something different. It's really quite nice.

This isn't too spicy - but the spices work together very well to provide a nice symphony of flavor that doesn't drown out the more delicate flavor of the white chocolate. The combination of ingredients work well to deliver a well-rounded flavor that's really quite delightful.

to brew: because this is a chai, you want to give the pouch a good shake before you measure it to make sure that all the ingredients are well distributed throughout the blend. also - because this is a chai - you want to measure out just a little more than you usually would to make sure that you have a full-flavored cuppa. I recommend at least 4 1/2 grams of leaf & spices to 12 ounces of near boiling water (I almost always heat my water to 205°F for black teas to extract a full flavor but the slightly less than boiling temperature helps reduce the possibility of astringency and bitterness.) Allow to steep for 2 1/2 minutes - you can play around with the time to find what works best for you, but keep in mind that this blend is composed of CTC Assam tea that can be somewhat 'sensitive' and go bitter if you steep it too long). strain and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes for best flavor. 

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