|"Tea bark: The source of the toothsome aroma was a luscious dark semisweet chocolate bark enhanced with American Tea Room Tangier Black Tea and bits of dried apricot. Intensely rich, a little went a long way. That’s the great thing about quality chocolate; you don’t need very much to satisfy. This one was a definite thumbs up."|
The next thing I did was restrain myself and brew up a pot of American Tea Room's Giddapahar China Delight First Flush Darjeeling 2010 that I had on hand. I wanted something light and refreshing, something that would clear my palate between noshes and not overpower the other flavors. Its hint of citrus made it a very suitable choice. After all, ATR stresses the proper pairing of food and tea.
Ah, and now it was time to indulge.
Tea bark: The source of the toothsome aroma was a luscious dark semisweet chocolate bark enhanced with American Tea Room Tangier Black Tea and bits of dried apricot. Intensely rich, a little went a long way. That’s the great thing about quality chocolate; you don’t need very much to satisfy. This one was a definite thumbs up.
Brioche Tea Cake: this moist little mouthful was made with ATR’s Brioche tea and had a smooth almond flavor, with notes of cinnamon and black tea. The light icing was crunchy and not overly sweet. Very nice.
Lavender Earl Grey Tea cake- This pretty little cake, which ended up being my favorite of the collection, was flavored and scented with lavender, bergamot, and black Yunnan tea. It makes its first impressing with a sweet lavender fragrance that rises from the moist, speckled cake. I can only describe the flavor as delicate and warm, with very strong bergamot and lavender flavors, underlain by the warmth of spices like (I am guessing here) nutmeg, mace, and the tea. The tart lemony icing kept it all from being too sweet. The flavor in its entirety lingers on the tongue just like its namesake tea. Very unique. If I could choose only one sweet to have, this would be it.
Earl Grey Petit Four- “Enrobed” is the perfect word for these delicacies. They are covered in a thick layer of flavored chocolate. Cutting this one in half revealed delicate layers of cream and cake interleaved beneath the luscious shell of rich, buttery, citrus tinged white chocolate covering. The aroma was bergamot and lemon, with undertones of the tea. Citrus was the dominant note with this one and it was especially nice with the Darjeeling. It is topped prettily with a sugared rose petal.
Matcha Petit Four. My second favorite, in part because it is the most unusual. The outer layer is smooth white chocolate with a hint of lemon. The cake layers inside were matcha green and matcha flavored, tempered by the sweetness of the cake and icing. Like the Earl Grey, it was extremely rich, but the matcha leavened the flavor and doesn’t allow it to overwhelm. It is topped with a button of matcha-flavored white chocolate that deserves to be savored on its own.
So, everything was delish, and grading them is only by matter of degree. I rank the tea bark in its own category, and declare it Not To Be Missed by lovers of really good chocolate. I loved, loved, loved the pair with apricot.
I preferred the tea cakes over the petit fours. The latter were lovely, but almost overwhelmingly rich. Small as they were, I split them with my husband and was quite satisfied with half. As for the cakes, he would have to arm wrestle me for the Earl Grey. As stated above, this was my absolute favorite. The Brioche is lovely, too, but almond is not my favorite flavor. All the same, the Earl Grey beats it just by a whisker.
I spent some time pondering other teas I might have with these. I would highly recommend American Tea Room's Ruby Black, which is smooth and unique—another Not To Be Missed item. A Golden Monkey or Yunnan Golden Needles would also be very nice. Greens would not work for me, but they might for you. I think a white would be too easily overwhelmed by the sweetness of the confections. So, a black. The trick is to keep the tea as a light compliment, rather than the star of the show, but it needs to be able to hold its own, too.
The American Tea Room carries a number of other flavors in these confections, too, including passion fruit and ginger petit fours, and a milk chocolate bark sprinkled with almonds and candied citrus. Some are available by mail; others must be experienced in the store. I can’t wait until my next visit!
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