Life beyond the teabag: Friends, lovers and soul mates – pairing tea and chocolate


Diane Eddy

There are three ways to consider tea and chocolate. The first is as “friends,” where both the tea and the chocolate enjoy the same characteristics. The second is as “lovers,” when the steaming cup and the luxurious chocolate complement each other despite their apparent differences. The third perspective is as “soul mates,” where nothing can pull the pure bliss of these two tastes apart. Yet the joy lies in experimenting, because you can never drink enough good tea and you can never taste enough good chocolate.

Chocolate, like tea, has been captivating the palates of humans around the world for centuries. The qualities that make chocolate such a perfect pairing for food and sweets — its rich flavor, depth of character and subtle bite — also make it an ideal complement to many types of tea. Whether the dominant flavor of any given chocolate is earthy, sweet, bitter or vegetal, the purpose of pairing it with tea is to either enhance or complement those flavor qualities.

The cacao bean was used by the Olmecs, living in present-day Mexico over 3000 years ago. The Mayas, Toltecs and Aztecs who followed used cacao beans to prepare a bitter and highly-spiced drink, which they named “xocoatl” (bitter water). The cacao bean also served as currency, just as tea was and is used as currency in many parts of the world.

The first European to come into contact with cocoa was Christopher Columbus. In 1502, on his fourth journey to the New World, he first tasted chocolate and found it to be too bitter and spicy. Several years later, in 1528, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés brought this brown gold and the recipe for the exotic drink to Spain.

The Spanish added sugar to the unique beverage – which they called chocolate – and it soon came to be considered a fashionable delicacy. In 1615, when the Spanish Princess Anna married the French King Louis XIII, the drink was first tasted in France, and from there it spread to the other royal courts and refined societies of Europe.

Then came the chocolate pioneers in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Holland and, of course, Switzerland who turned their visions and ingenious ideas into the sweet confection we know today. It was their discovery of techniques and recipes for producing a solid form of this popular beverage which made chocolate available to everyone.

Come join us at our February 20, 2018, Tea Tasting Class as Diane Eddy, Certified Tea Specialist from Global Tea Mart, leads our class in pairing tea with chocolate — one of our most popular classes.

Class is held in the Sun Lakes Country Club Navajo Room from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The cost for the class is $5, and each student should bring a teacup and saucer.

Reservations for this class are a must. Please call Diane at 480-219-6211 or send her an email at [email protected] for more information and reservations.