Tea-flavoured confections are tricky things. Too much tea is overpowering and unnecessary. Too little tea, or tea-flavoured confections that aren’t eaten immediately, taste like no tea at all. It’s a conundrum, and one that a lot of chocolatiers deal with by not doing tea-flavoured confections at all.
Somehow, Michael Recchuiti figured it out. Given that my box of chocolates weren’t hand-packed at his shop, I’m going to guess that they were at least 2-4 weeks old. Yet, somehow, his two tea-flavoured chocolates were lovely.
The spring jasmine tea features jasmine blossoms and green tea leaves paired with extra-bitter chocolate. The sheer size of the confection was surprising: at 3 cm squared (that’s almost 1 1/4 inches for you American folks), it’s one of the biggest artisan confections I’ve seen yet. I’ll be picky and say that the top shell was a bit thicker than I’d like, but it wasn’t overly distracting.
The inside more than made up for the overly thick shell. It smelled like what I imagine jasmine flowers to smell like on a summer evening’s walk. And the flavour profile was lovely, well-paced and deliberate. First, there were light floral notes that mellowed to aromatic, sweet jasmine. Next, you got the bitterness of the tea, and the cocoa of the chocolate on finish. The floral notes lingered for a while like a reminder of the beginning of the flavour profile.
The pearl mint tea was a more normal size, approximately 2 cm (3/4 inches) square. The shell on this one was perfect, although there was a bubble in the ganache.
The aroma on this one is pure, fresh mint. There are two kinds of mint – spearmint and peppermint – and they show up at different points in the tasting. First, there’s a low, muted taste of spearmint, followed by the earthiness and bitterness of green tea. This mellows to show off the bitterness of the chocolate, tempered with a pop of peppermint that builds in intensity.
Recently, I tried a similar flavour combination where the balance of flavours was off. The green tea was musty, making the chocolate taste like mothballs. The mint was muddy-tasting and dull, and the entire combination was really unpleasant.
Thankfully, Recchuiti knows what he’s doing.