Sunday, February 14, 2010

Always Sweet, Never Short: Tea & Chocolate

Today, are you finding yourself wondering what the secret is to a great marriage? The hype that surrounds this day can bring even the most capable man to his knees. The greeting card section of the grocery store is depleted and ransacked, florists are frazzled, candy shops are no longer sweet, and therapists take to the airways to weigh in on unlocking the key to someone’s heart. Valentine's Day can end up being an added stress to any relationship. Me? I woke up early just like any other day craving caffeine(in awe of my husband's amazing ability to steep an honest cup of tea).

The Tea Drinker and I have been together for almost nineteen years(thirteen married). I am pretty confident that we will be together right through to our golden years. Just this morning, he mentioned to me that I sleep so soundly that he checks to see if I am still breathing. What more could I ask for in a mate?

Many years ago, my husband’s Mom(Mops) gave me a handwritten note on a recipe card with the ingredients for a ‘beautiful and lasting friendship’. This advice has certainly worked for us; we only tweaked it slightly(see addendum below**). Thanks, Mops.

Respect- 1 full cup
Kindness- 1 full cup
Honesty- 1 full cup
Patience- 1 full cup
Wisdom- 1 full cup
Love- Infinity
Mix the above ingredients gently for a loving and enduring relationship.
**Supplement with ‘wine nights , pour in lots of humor, jet set and travel, and most importantly, take time to enjoy many delicious meals together.

Need to Spice it Up?!
Treat your honey to a loose leaf tea and chocolate pairing. No joke. The pairing of these two treats are good for your health; packed with plenty of anti-oxidants and benefits (including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease). You need a strong heart to stay in a healthy relationship.

Remember to stick with the following ground rules: always choose high quality and premium chocolates and loose leaf teas. Dark Chocolate has a higher cocoa butter content( 55% cacao or more) resulting in complex, full-bodied flavors that are less sweet and more bitter. Try a full bodied Keemun, or a lovely rich Pu-erh to pair with this type of chocolate. If you are a fan of Milk Chocolate (30% to 70%), these richer softer flavors pair nicely with Oolongs or even a bright green tea.

Currently my favorite chocolate producer is Vosges Haut Chocolate based in Chicago, IL. I adore this company and their philosophy about life, love and chocolate. Trust me, I have done a lot of market research. Vosges produces exotic chocolates made from the best ingredients offered from around the world. I could go on and on about the exquisite pairings that Owner/Chocolatier Katrina Markoff creates using unusual spices, intermingled with delightful flowers, and high quality artisan chocolate. And yes, she even experiments with integrating loose leaf tea into her repertoire.

Try any of the following pairings below and you will not be disappointed. Hey, when exotic, tea, and chocolate are all in the same sentence, you should not ignore the signs…

Matcha Exotic Candy Bar- Japanese matcha green tea with milk chocolate( 45% cacao). A perfect match with a grassy and complex Gyokuro.

Naga Exotic Candy Bar-Sweet Indian Curry, coconut and milk chocolate(41% cacao). Pair with the intriguing and seductive Mokalbari Single Estate Assam, and your heart will sing.

Calinda Exotic Candy Bar-Cardamon, organic walnuts, dried plums and dark chocolate( 65%). Spicy, and hot. Try with Organic Chic Chai or Herbal Masala Chai for a tamed down version.

Now, the above are just some of my favorites. But, if you are crazy about any of the following: walnuts, almonds, chili peppers, bacon, peanut butter, marshmallows, hibiscus, cinnamon, sea salt, goji berries, and macadamia nuts (just to name a few), then order now. Run to your kettle, don’t walk. Turn it on, kiss your honey, and count your blessings!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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