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Posts Tagged ‘The Tea Room’

My last few days in Florida have been incredible, eye-opening and, above all, ridiculously fun. As I am unsure how much I’ll be able to blog about my adventures, suffice to say I had an incomparably wonderful time, met amazing, friendly, and hilarious people (musicians: you rock, in every sense of the word), and am right now dealing with the sadness that comes at the conclusion of happy times.

Here’s an indicator of how stupendous the experience was: I barely ate any chocolate over the four days and, more importantly, didn’t even suffer from withdrawal.

Of course, I still have a rather enormous backlog of chocolate reviews… so let’s get to it, shall we?

The Tea Room Organic Dark Chocolate Bar Infused with Yerba Maté Tea and Cacao Nibs

The Tea Room Organic Dark Chocolate Bar Infused with Yerba Mate Tea and Cacao Nibs

Why hello busy-pretty packaging. I believe we've met before?

During the shopping expedition that saw me pick up The Tea Room’s Milk Chocolate with Chai bar, I also slipped this Dark Chocolate version with Yerba Maté Tea and Cacao Nibs into my basket.

(A-tisket, a-tasket! A green and yellow basket!)

(Basket is a strange word.)

(I may or may not have had very little sleep over the past few days.)

(Aren’t brackets fun?)

The chocolate used here by The Tea Room is a 72% blend with an appealing glossy red-brown appearance, although for some reason it consistently refused to break along its marked-out and moulded squares. I want order in my chocolate! Order! (Not really.)

The Tea Room Organic Dark Chocolate with Yerba Mate Tea and Cacao Nibs

The chocolate has a strong aroma of green tea, grass, bergamot, and citrus, with anise pulling through as a strong flavour upon tasting. Anise, you ask? Anise, indeed. Investigation uncovers star anise as a key ingredient, and its herbal notes play off nicely against the grassy and ylang-ylang flavours of the yerba maté.

The chocolate itself is sweet with a red currant and raspberry tang. It also has a quick and smooth melt, except for the rare (extremely rare) moments when one encounters the tiny crunch of a miniscule cacao nib.

The Tea Room Dark Chocolate with Yerba Mate Tea and Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs, cacao nibs, wherefore art thou cacao nibs?

Rare, tiny, miniscule: that is, ultimately, why this bar is a disappointment to me. If it had simply called itself dark chocolate with tea and anise, I likely would have enjoyed its blend of sweet dark chocolate with bergamot, grassy, bitter herbal, and anise notes. But as a lover of cacao nibs and their earthy crunch, I was saddened to find that such nibs were not only few and far between, but too small to contribute anything flavour-wise when they did appear.

Oh, expectations, you do perturb me sometimes.

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Once more, I’m jumping my chocolate review queue to talk about yesterday’s chocolates rather than, for example, the chocolates I had five weeks ago in New York. But what can you do? The first of these was quite delicious, and the second constituted another shock to my dark-chocolate-loving system, so I decree that they deserve speedy recognition. 

Also, they both have pretty packaging. 

The Tea Room Organic Milk Chocolate Bar Infused with Black Masala Chai Tea

The Tea Room Milk Chocolate Bar Infused with Black Masala Chai Tea

I love this packaging. Is it tea? Is it chocolate? It's busy, but it works.

I had never heard of this chocolate company prior to two days ago, when I spotted a few of its bars at a Wegmans in Virginia. As the charming L.FoodieFulbright and L.MiteMaster can attest, I did my little chocolate-happy-dance, right there in the aisle, whilst popping two flavours (the second of which will be reviewed another time) into my shopping basket. 

In 2009, The Tea Room won a Fancy Food Show Silver Award for Excellence for its Green Earl Grey Dark Chocolate, yet as I’m not a fan of Earl Grey tea, I’m here reviewing the Milk Chocolate Bar Infused with Black Masala Chai Tea. Along with black tea, the spices “infused” into the bar are cardamom, cinnamon, pepper and clove, with each of these components being certified organic. 

The Tea Room Milk Chocolate Bar Infused with Black Masala Chai Tea
Very smooth and glossy, so that’s a tick.

The Tea Room captures well the flavour of chai tea, from the tea’s milky sweetness to its complex blend of spices. The spices here each contribute to the chocolate’s overall flavour without any one becoming overpowering. However, each spice does, on occasion, fleetingly assert itself. It is almost as if each spice likes to poke out its head from time to time and wave at you, before disappearing back into the sweet, milky amalgamation that is the overall flavour. In addition, the pepper creates a vague hint of heat on the palate, thereby providing a welcome, if subtle, counterpoint to the honey-and-vanilla-ice-cream sweetness of the milk chocolate itself. 

 Theo Hazelnut Crunch

Theo Hazelnut Crunch
It’s the return of the lovable Theo designs!

Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. This chocolate almost forced me to switch allegiance from the dark to the milk side of the chocolate fence, but I think I’m still mostly in the dark camp. Perhaps just my left leg is crossing the line? 

This is amazing. Buttery crispy caramelly toffee salty crispy nutty buttery toffee salty nutty roasted salty amazing. I wish I could write something cleverer and more in keeping with the literary skills of someone who just wrote a 28,000-word thesis, but I have looked back at my tasting notes, and they’re all but illegible. Moderately inappropriate for any potential younger readers, too. 

Theo Hazelnut Crunch
So much salty crispy toffee hazelnut goodness.

With the rather banal name of “hazelnut crunch”, I thought this Theo bar was going to be little more than chopped-up hazelnuts and milk chocolate. It’s so much more. The little nubbins of goodness that (as you can see) stud the bar are not just bits of hazelnut, they are speckles of salty, darkly-roasted hazelnut brittle (at least, that’s my guess. I’m no Theo chocolatier). 

Theo Hazelnut Crunch
Odd composition, yes. But see what I mean about the hazelnut brittle/toffee deliciousness?

The combination of the buttery saltiness, the darker, almost burnt edge to the toffee, and the flavour of the roasted hazelnuts makes the smooth milk chocolate seem like a binding agent rather than a focal point – and that is fine by me. 

 In fact, it makes me feel better about the whole scenario, as I can keep my dark chocolate allegiance intact by justifying that my love here is all about the “hazelnut crunch”. Everybody wins!

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