I've tried a lot of chocolate teas in my time and most of them just don't make the cut. First off, I don't need my teas sweetened for me, thank you very much. If I want sweet, I'll add it myself. Second, don't try to give me carob and pass it off as chocolate. My grandmother used to try to do that with "chocolate" chip cookies when I was little. I was on to her then. I'm still on to those tricks. But there are a few chocolate teas I've actually enjoyed.
Mind you, "chocolate" is a little bit of a relative term. These teas don't so much cure your craving for a Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffle (or is that just my thing?) as they do offer a depth of flavor and a nice, "desserty" feel without being sicky sweet and laying all those calories on you.
I have four chocolate teas for you--two are readily available, at least at Wegmans, if you've got one of those near you. I'm sure other major grocery chains also carry them. The other two would have to be ordered online but hey, we do what we need to do for our tea fix.
The first is Republic of Tea's Red Velvet Chocolate Tea. Republic of Tea comes in round tea bags without strings so you do have to fish it out of your mug when its done steeping. As long as you're prepared for that, it's a very nice tea. It's got a decent chocolate flavor, and there's a hint of vanilla that really does kind of give this the feel of a cupcake without the sweet. It's caffeine-free so it's a nice evening-in-front-of-the-TV-to-keep-myself-from-snacking tea. I was skeptical when I first bought it, but immediately became a fan. Unfortunately, my nearby Wegmans doesn't carry it anymore. Every so often I'll spy it at another Wegmans and will pick up a couple of tins to get me through. When I'm done with the canister I'm currently working on, though, I've resigned myself to having to order it online.
Another great Republic of Tea offering, and my go-to (this one is always in the cupboard at my house), is Peppermint Chocolate. I adore this tea. I've mentioned that I'm a fan of mint tea, and I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate mint truffles...you name it. So this seemed like a natural. I've brought it with me on quilt retreats a couple of times and have made a few converts of my quilty friends, too. I especially love that there's no sweetener at all in this--not even natural kinds! It's just that same chocolate feel as the Red Velvet chocolate, with enough mint to make it cool and refreshing but not overpowering. This one is also caffeine-free, so I drink it a lot in the afternoon while I'm working. Fortunately, Wegmans always has this one so I don't have to go on the hunt for it.
A note here: If you like sweeter teas, you may want to check out Republic of Tea's Peppermint Bark tea. It's a seasonal tea (winter holidays), but it's still on the shelves at my Wegmans, so you may be able to find it around even out-of-season. It's an organic green roobios tea with cocoa extract, peppermint, vanilla, and stevia. I tried it once and liked the flavor but don't like the sweetness of the stevia, so it wasn't a keeper for me. I handed it off to my daughter.
For my Canadian friends, or those from the U.S. or elsewhere who are willing to pay shipping, you can check out Victoria's Teas. I always visit their shop in Niagara on the Lake when my husband and I go up for our anniversary weekend every October. If you visit the brick n' mortar or online shop, check out Chocolate Delight. It has cocoa beans and chocolate flakes, vanilla barley (not sure what that is but it tastes like vanilla), and some bits of yogurt to make it just a titch creamy feeling. You can actually see some of the oils from the chocolate on the top of the tea--which sounds gross, but is actually really yummy. I always get my teas from Victoria's in loose-leaf but they generally also come in bags. It's a black tea, which creates a little bit of a problem for me as I tend to prefer my flavored teas in the afternoon, but I adjust.
Finally, we're back to my new friends over at Plumdeluxe.com. I got several samples a few weeks ago and one of the first ones I tried quickly became one of my favorites. The Chocolate Hazelnut Dessert Tea is outstanding. I will be ordering this in full size as soon as I make room in my tea cupboard (read: as soon as I drink a few more gallons of tea). Oh. My.
It's rich and nutty, but the touch of sweetness comes from the hazelnut and the natural flavor of the base honeybush tea, nothing else. It's also caffeine-free, so this is another wonderful one to have in the evening while I'm winding down from the day, instead of nibbling on something or diving into a bowl of ice cream. I can see this tea taking pride of place in my cupboard next to my Republic of Tea Peppermint Chocolate.
My book review this week is from a guest blogger! Woot! I sent our #Twilter friend Daisy, of Lazy Daisy Quilts, a request: those of us who know her know that she's a voracious reader. So, I asked her if she'd read anything with a chocolate theme and, if so, would she be willing to give me a brief review for today's post? The answer was yes and yes!
Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates is the first book in The Magical Bakery Mystery series. Bailey Cates is one of the many pen names of Cricket McRae. She uses a different pen name for each cozy crime series. I would recommend this, and her aromatherapy series, which starts with Daisies for Innocence. This author likes to center her mysteries around some sort of shop and in this, Brownies and Broomsticks, we find our main character, Katie, returning to downtown Savannah to help her aunt and uncle run their newly opened bake shop. Katie notices that each recipe her aunt bakes up has a special twist to it. She quickly learns that they are not just baked goods, but spells used to sway the moods and choices of those who consume them. Growing up, Katie never knew she came from a family of good witches. When a difficult and powerful woman about town turns up dead, Uncle Ben is the prime suspect and Katie has to unravel the mystery of what has really happened. The descriptions of sweet treats in this book will wreck your diet, and I'll tell you that for free. Get ready to curl up with some hot cocoa, a chocolate eclair, and this cozy mystery. It's punny, a bit predictable, yet still highly entertaining. There are no earth shattering profound truths about the human existence, just good clean murdery fun.
(Thanks so much for your review, Daisy!)
I believe my friend Lori has baked up some wonderful chocolatey treats to go with today's chocolate tea theme. Check it out!