I just read a great article about giving experiences instead of giving gifts for the holidays, something I wholeheartedly agree with! I’ve learned that it only works if you make sure to follow through though; I owe a certain loved-one a private yoga lesson, diving with sharks, and a visit to a masseuse… As a result of the “experience as gift” idea, my mom and I and recently enjoyed an evening at Summit Spice & Tea Company for a tea and chocolate tasting.
My first tasting at Summit Spice was a honey tasting class, which I loved. The tea and chocolate class was also really fun (can you really go wrong with tea and chocolate?) and my mom and I met some lovely people – an elementary school teacher, a mom who was scoping out the class to see if it would be a good learning experience for her kids, a couple on a date, and another Gretchen. It’s always interesting to see how each person experiences the same flavors so differently.
Our teacher, Chad, created pairings for us, and said they all fell in the following categories: “friends” (similar flavors in each), “lovers” (compliment each other through their differences), or “A Perfect Match.”
Here’s how to properly taste tea and chocolate:
- Look and touch: Touching the chocolate can release natural aromas that might be hidden.
- Inhale: This is a preview of what you will taste; swirling the tea releases more of the scent.
- Slurp: This is important – slurping allows air to combine with the tea, which awakens some of the more delicate flavors… plus, it’s really fun.
- Chocolate: Let a bite of chocolate melt in your mouth so that all your taste buds can experience it.
- Combine: Take a sip of tea while the chocolate is still in your mouth; note how the two compliment each other (this is the best part – I liked most of the pairings better together!).
- Cleanse: Eat a pretzel and drink some water so that you’re ready for the next pairing!
There were ten pairings created for us, featuring a variety of teas (black, white, and green) and different kinds of chocolate, including white with lemon zest, milk with roasted edamame and sea salt, and dark chocolate with caramel and infused with chocolate stout beer.
Here’s an example of a pairing:
Southern Hibiscus Peach Chocolate: Fragrant, tangy peaches and puckering tart hibiscus flowers mingle in the southern tradition of tart and sweet.
White Tea Ginger Peach: A beautiful white tea with natural sweet notes with sweet peach and a hint of ginger.
This is obviously a “friends” combo, and was the class favorite.
After the tasting was over, we browsed the shop and may have left with a couple different chocolate bars… (the dangerous part of the tasting).
The tea and chocolate class was the last for the season, but check back in the new year to see what the 2014 offerings are!