Our next Tea Time At Reverie comes courtesy of Sanctuary T. This New York City tea shop sells a number of its straight loose-leafs and artisan tea blends at their online store. Notice I said “tea shop.” Yes, you can visit Sanctuary T’s restaurant for just about any meal of the day, or make reservations for afternoon tea. Their menu features a neat selection of creative yet familiar dishes to match the cozy tearoom environment. I may have to pop in there the next time I’m in the Big Apple!
One of the teas I was thrilled to try from Sanctuary was their Chocolate Honeybush Tea. Haven’t heard of honeybush before? It’s a flowering plant grown in South Africa that was named after the honey fragrance from its blossoms. It differs from the more well-known rooibos (also cultivated in South Africa) with darker, coarser root pieces and a fuller body. While I already like honeybush tea, I bet you’ve already guessed the reason I asked for this sample: chocolate! So, how well do these two indulgent flavors combine for this dessert tisane?
Sanctuary T’s Description: “Anyone who says chocolate can’t be good for you obviously hasn’t tried our Chocolate Honeybush tea. This delectably creamy blend of honeybush, chocolate bits and rose petals is also packed full of antioxidants to fight aging and keep your complexion clear and glowing—and it’s still got zero calories! If drinking this tea is wrong, then you’ll never want to be right.”
Ingredients: African honeybush root, chocolate, and rose petals
Steeping Instructions: Use 1.5 teaspoons per 8 oz of water. Heat water to boiling (208 degrees Fahrenheit / 97 degrees Celsius) and steep for 5 to 7 minutes.
Multiple Brews?: No
Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf
Caffeine Level: None
Dry honeybush roots have a naturally reddish-brown, woody look. However, I was surprised at how dark Sanctuary T’s Chocolate Honeybush appeared in the sample bag. Maybe the chocolate bits enhance the brown tones a little more. The dark background also allows the pink rose petal specks to stand out visually.
Now, considering this drink’s name, guess which smell delighted this tea and chocolate lover as soon as she opened the bag? Ohhhhhhhhhh yes! It’s not a sugary chocolate scent, though. Instead, It’s more like cocoa, raw and slightly nutty. The wood and honey notes from the honeybush also bloom through, giving this blend a warm and unique sultriness. I can’t detect much of a rose scent… but let’s see what happens when I make my brew.
For my first cup of Chocolate Honeybush, I steep about 1.5 teaspoons in 8 ounces of nearly boiling water for 5 minutes. (I prefer to make my herbal teas with water of 195 degrees Fahrenheit [90 degrees Celcius] instead of 208.) The vibrant reddish-brown infusion is gorgeous and tantalizing, especially with the wood and cocoa notes whispering at my nose. Flavor-wise, this tisane offers equal amounts of cocoa and honeybush, followed by a delightful bittersweet finish. The cocoa complements the wood tones surprisingly well and gets an unexpected boost from the roots’ natural sweetness. I still don’t smell or taste much from the roses, but the lack of either doesn’t detract from the drink.
I’m curious whether a longer brewing time enhances the chocolate flavor, as Sanctuary T suggests. So, I steep a second cup of Chocolate Honeybush for over 6 minutes. The liquor takes on a deeper brown hue; and while the cocoa overtones have strengthened, they don’t overpower the honeybush at all. The two flavors are still evenly balanced – a sort of tea equilibrium. (If “tea-quilibrium” wasn’t a word before, it is now!) I admit that my tongue misses the typical sugariness and silky texture of chocolate. Then again, if Chocolate Honeybush actually was sugary-sweet and silky, it wouldn’t be guilt-free, would it? 😉
Tea lovers with a “chocolate tooth” are bound to appreciate Sanctuary T’s Chocolate Honeybush. This full-bodied herbal pleasure maintains the signature honeybush taste while introducing a healthy dose of cocoa. This combination may seem odd in theory, but once it’s in your cup your senses will purr with gratitude. The rose petals are more or less an aesthetic; they don’t add much to the infusion. Nonetheless, Chocolate Honeybush is a delectable, calorie-free, and reasonably priced treat that would pair deliciously with non-chocolate cheesecakes, tiramisu, or your favorite cookies.
Grade: 8.5 / 10
- Tea Drinkers Who: Are looking for an ideal dessert tea without too much caffeine or sweetness, or a healthier alternative to hot chocolate
- Time of Day and Year: After dinner or with dessert year-round
- Possible Book Pairings: If Chocolate Honeybush helps one avoid temptation, perhaps the book choices should lure you back to the dark side. Try this tisane with Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Legacy series (adult fantasy) or Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes or The Devil and Miss Prym (metaphysical / fiction).
You can purchase Chocolate Honeybush directly from Sanctuary T here.
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In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes book reviews and articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works available in various print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
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