Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Tea Room Chocolate Fusion Maté & Cacao Nibs

1.8oz (51g) bar
Ingredients: Organic cacao, o. cane sugar, o. cacao fat, o. yerba maté tea, o. star anise, o. cacao nibs, soy lecithin
7g sugar/25.5g serving (27.5% by wt.)

Corporate Info: The Tea Room is a small, California-based company started by a Swiss chef and later hotel manager. I can't find much more information about the company itself, including in the press, but it seems pretty small and focused on tea, imported macarons, and tea-infused chocolate treats. All of the cacao is organic and non-GMO, and it's sourced with farmers' quality of life in mind while consciously avoiding the Fair Trade label. The Tea Room's bars and some other items are sold nationwide, mostly at gourmet and health-food-type markets; I found mine at an upscale, local chain pharmacy.

Today's Bar: I selected two bars based on how dark they were, and today's is 72% cacao infused with yerba maté and also including cacao nibs. For those who've never tasted yerba maté, it's a South American plant whose leaves can be used like tea, imparting a grassy flavor as well as a hit of caffeine.

Appearance: The Tea Room's bars are not especially exciting to look at, just sharply molded into a rectangular grid. The color of this one is quite dark, more black-brown than I'd expect for 72%, with a slight gloss.

Smell: Deep, but not fruity, more of a dried, “brown” vibe.

Taste: Wow, that's deep. The flavor stands out, punchy and dried-fruity, and the texture is super rich and creamy. Not a lot of sourness, no edges, but lots of lingering, dark dried fruit and a sort of dried grassiness, which I presume is the maté. Nibs seem to be few and far between, detectable mostly only in a slightly less smooth texture, which actually provides some interesting variation, if not a stark contrast.

Conclusion: The Tea Room Chocolate Fusion Maté & Cacao Nibs is deep and dark, but not bitter.

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