The idea behind this experiment began to take shape after I read this article on Oolong Owl’s excellent blog about Tisano chocolate tea.
This reminded me of having read about chocolate flavoured Pu-erh previously, and before I could stop myself I was in our local supermarket and throwing a 50 gram packet of cacao nibs into my shopping basket.
It has to be said that I wouldn’t dream of doing this with any of my better shous. This idea was conceived as a way of taking one of those very ordinary, run of the mill shous I have in and transforming it into something quite different.
The nibs I am using here are from Kung Markatta, and are made from small pieces of raw cocoa beans – further information can be found here (link in Swedish).
I did a short test before going further with the experiment. I placed 5 grams of nibs into a tea filter bag, and steeped them in an old 500 ml pot using boiling water for 2 minutes. I hoped to achieve 2 things with this first test – i) I wanted to see if the nibs stood up to the steeping without melting down into a stringy, rubbery, gooey, oily, teaware wrecking mess, and ii) to get a first impression as to how flavour extraction from the nibs worked.
The nibs remained intact after the infusion time was up, crunchy even, which suggested they would cope well with longer steeping times if needed.
The taste, aroma, and body of the resulting liquor hinted that I would need more nibs in the pot, as well as a longer steeping time.
So, for the first test proper I went with 5 grams of shou Pu-erh, and 10 grams of cacao nibs.
Water was at 100°C, and I steeped the leaf/nibs blend in my Ikea “Upphetta” 400 ml French press for 4 minutes, before decanting the liquor off into a second, pre-warmed pot.
I have to say that for my personal taste this first trial was pretty much on the money. The liquor retained the earthy warmth of the shou, but that was nicely balanced with the chocolate flavour, which managed to be quite prominent, but also very subtle.
If you’re not a fan of high cacao content dark chocolate rest assured – very little bitterness made it into the cup. What non-sweetness (for want of a better word) there was was more like black coffee in nature. The taste was about as far removed from the dairy and sugar loaded version of chocolate as it’s possible to get. The best way I can describe it is like being in a bakery just as a huge batch of chocolate eclairs come out of the oven, if that makes sense.
Curiously, the tea was a good bit lighter in colour than the same shou is when brewed plain, but as you might expect the body was given a significant shot in the arm, becoming really buttery and luscious.
A second steeping at 5 minutes duration was also good, but a third at 6 minutes proved to be not so nice.
So, all in all a successful experiment, I reckon.
If this appeals to your sense of adventure, use these parameters as a starting point, see what you think, then tweak the amounts and timings accordingly. It’s definitely worth a try!