Growing up, I always had hot chocolate made with milk. I actually didn’t know that people would make it using water and when I had my first experience with water based hot chocolate… I thought it was an abomination! Like, who does that? I’m not one to pick hot chocolate as a drink very often as it is, it’s always too sweet, too fake tasting and too heavy on my system. I can barely finish a cup without needing to wash it down with something lighter, something citrus, salty or fizzy.
Recently, my family stopped consuming cow’s milk so we had to find an alternative to make hot chocolate. Soy milk is what we liked best because of the creamy texture and the flavor profile which isn’t too overpowering like almond milk is. Yet, even still, hot chocolate just isn’t my go to drink on a cold night. It’s not my cup of tea… literally! I prefer something like a genmaicha or hojicha as an alternative, it gives the comforting toastiness without the sticky, overwhelming sweetness of prepared hot chocolate dust.
Don’t get me wrong though, I LOVE actual chocolate, particularly, I am in the minority who adores dark chocolate. I can tolerate a bit more bitterness than the average chocolate eater, I feel it gives it complexity and allows for the true flavor of cacao to emerge through. I have also never really been a big sweet tooth, so although I did once in a while like a milk chocolate, I could only take so much.
I recently went to the Chicago Tea Festival where I had several great experiences, one which I documented in my previous blog The Tea That Enlightened Me. Another thing that happened at this festival was that I encountered this tisane by Tea Source made from the cacao husk, bean and pod. It’s processed in such a way that it makes it easy to infuse it just as you would any other herbal tea which was a big selling point for me. I have purchased cacao nibs in the past, but honestly didn’t really get much out of them because they need to be prepared more as a decoction as opposed to an infusion and I honestly don’t always make the time to make decoctions. The way Tea Source got their cacao processed (in broken up “shavings”) allowed me to experiment “gong fuing” it and seeing what would happen.
I didn’t really measure how much I put in my gaiwan (honestly, I never really do even for real tea) I just eye balled it until I thought it was enough, I heated my water to 205f and then gave it a go. Oh boy… the richness, the intensity, and the deliciousness that resulted nearly knocked me off my chair! Like, I didn’t even miss not having milk in it, the infusion was so rich that it almost felt like it was made with milk. The after taste in my mouth literally felt and tasted like I had just had milk. The liquid was viscous and syrupy in my gaiwan, for a moment I even thought the contents inside was actually melting like a candy bar! Take note though, that it is a bit bitter, cacao is naturally quite bitter so don’t expect it to taste like a Hershey’s bar haha. It is delicious though!
This, my friends, is what I’m going to be having when I get a hot chocolate craving from now on. Thinking back to my first experience at the festival, I actually think that a western style brew may be better for my taste, as the richness that resulted from the “gong fuing” was a bit overwhelming. However, if you already have some or are thinking of purchasing a bit of this chocolate “tea” I’d recommend “gong fuing” it at least once, it’s quite an impactful experience in my opinion. As I said, hot chocolate isn’t something I go for often and I’ll probably still prefer my genmai but this is a very nice option to have available and to share with others who have probably never had a pure cacao experience! The word that comes to me when I think of this tisane is INDULGENCE, pure, silky and rich indulgence!