Behind The Blue Door

Afternoon Tea | August 30, 2016 |

The flavour alchemist:

Inspiration from Paul A Young's surprising tea and chocolate pairings

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We don’t really need the excuse of the upcoming International Chocolate Day to settle down with a pot of tea and a box of chocolates but it’s another reminder to take time for one of life’s simple pleasures.

Chocolatier Paul A Young has built a career from his talent for pairing chocolate with innovative flavours. And when you’re choosing from a range that includes marmite, bourbon and smoky paprika or coffee bean with thyme, you know you’re amid the creative output of a master.

“I’m a businessman, chocolatier, artist, creator, artisan, alchemist… every part of that fits into my job somewhere but creativity is always at the top of the list,” laughs Paul.

We asked him how he came to pair Wedgwood tea with chocolates and how we can all become more creative.

The man behind the brand is Paul A Young, his twirly moustache and beard, teamed with little round glasses, adding to the air of gentle eccentricity.  

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But don’t be fooled. This softly-spoken northerner came into chocolate via patisserie, where he was mentored by Marco Pierre White and enjoyed an impressive career in the cut and thrust of two of London’s leading restaurants, the Criterion Brasserie and Soho’s Quo Vadis.

Paul’s natural talent, combined with White’s rigorous standards, forged a bold chocolatier. He now has three London shops, in Soho, Islington and Bank and attracts plaudits from around the world.

Paul is adamant that we can all be taste creatives.

“Developing flavours is the exciting bit of my job,” he said, “I have to live with the tea; taste it, smell it, different strengths and then start to taste the chocolate with it. I start blending it together, eating it separately – there’s something new being created all the time.

“At home it’s actually very easy to create your own flavour pairings. Pick chocolate you really, really love and the thing to do is to have fun with it. Have friends round. Instead of having a tea party, have a chocolate tea party.”

You can even pair fruit teas with chocolate. Wedgwood’s latest range, Tea Garden, brings together the finest china with a range of four matching fruit teas: Raspberry, Lemon & ginger, Green tea & mint and Blackberry & apple.

wedgwood-3 RodThe key to teaming teas with chocolate is to keep it simple – and that’s true of traditional or alternative flavours. Choose a flavour or filling as close to the tea as possible, to enhance the taste, rather than confusing the palate.

So select tangy berry fillings for the fruit teas, citrus or marmalade for the lemon and ginger – or opt to highlight the ginger and mint elements by choosing chocolates that include these flavours.

It’s a skill Paul explores in his book Adventures with Chocolate, discussing why Equadorian chocolate lends itself to flavours such as marmalade, pink peppercorns and saffron, while Venezualan chocolate is amazing with cinnamon, chilli and lavender. For the very adventurous, the Alchemy chapter includes recipes for Venezualan chocolate chilli chicken, sweet chocolate pesto and a honey-cured bacon, stilton and chocolate sandwich.

His take on Wedgwood’s traditional black, white and green teas resulted in the following pairings:

1814 Chinese Tigers tea caddy (a black tea with ginger) paired with salted caramel.

1780 Encaustic Tea (a white and green tea with apricot pieces, sunflower petals, rosebuds and mullein flowers) paired with passion fruit curd.

Pure Assam Tea (a classic single estate black tea) paired with 91% classic water ganache truffle.

Watch the video for Paul’s tips on brewing the perfect cuppa and if you want to try his flavour combinations for yourself, call the shop for mail order and click on the links to order Wedgwood teas.

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