Which type of chocolate—white, milk, or dark—would best enhance the flavor of chamomile tea? This is the type of question that intrigues Heinz Rimann, founder of San Leandro’s The Tea Room. Rimann selected white chocolate to bring out the delicate flavor of chamomile. With an added touch of honey the sweet result was The Tea Room’s Chamomile & Honey Chocolate Fusion bar, recently named a Sofi award finalist for outstanding chocolate by the Specialty Food Association.
“I like creating new things,” says Rimann, who starts by brewing tea to pair later with various chocolates. He creates classic duos like milk chocolate infused with mint tea or spicy concoctions like dark chocolate with Mayan pepper chai. This writer’s personal research on the dark chocolate bar infused with raspberry rooibos tea revealed a delicious fruitiness, creamy texture, and deep chocolate taste.
Rimann grew up in chocolate-rich Switzerland. While working in the U.S. hotel industry and importing loose-leaf teas for clients, he thought about blending tea and chocolate. Ground-up tea leaves mixed into chocolate produced an unpleasant graininess, so he started by steeping tea in cream for truffles, then finally came up with a way to produce unusually smooth and creamy tea-flavored bars without grinding the tea leaves.
Look for two new fusion bar flavors this fall: almond orange vanilla and crème brûlée, both made with black vanilla tea. The Tea Room USDA Certified Organic bars, chocolate fusion drops, drinking chocolate, and loose-leaf teas are available in shops throughout the East Bay.