In this article:
Yorkshire Puddings, Wensleydale cheese, Rhubarb, Pontefract liquorice, and Parkin. When it comes to food, Yorkshire produces a wealth of great products.
The region is the birthplace of many famous food brands too, such as Seabrook Crisps (Allerton), Fox's Biscuits (Batley), Bassetts (Sheffield), Henderson's Relish (Sheffield), Rowntree's (York), John Smith's (Tadcaster), Terry’s (York), Tetley (Bradford), and Taylor's (of Harrogate). And some of the places we buy these products from also boast Yorkshire heritage, including Asda (Leeds), Morrisons (Bradford), and Marks and Spencer (Leeds).
It's clear from this that Yorkshiremen and Yorkshirewomen know a thing or two when it comes to producing great confectionery. And they also know their tea, thanks to family-favourites including Tetley Tea and Yorkshire Tea.
So is it surprising that Yorkshire-based Oski's decided to blend tea into both milk and white chocolate? No, I think not. But have they brewed themselves a winner, or is tea and chocolate simply a step too far?
The kind people at Oski's sent me a box of their Earl Grey Milk Chocolate and their Chai White Chocolate to see for myself.
The first thing to notice about the packaging, despite an unmistakable similarity to one another, is the quality of the box. Good paper stock has been used to create the luxurious soft-touch boxes.
Both boxes follow the same design, featuring the Oski's logo at the top and viewing hole at the bottom of the front to tempt you to look closer. On the reverse is the ingredients and allergens lists. The Earl Grey box features a pale blue band across the bottom while the Chai box has a pale brown band. A tab on the rear holds the top 'lid' closed, meaning you can open and reseal this box again and again - ideal for sneaking small treats.
Shards of chocolate sit inside a long plastic bag, sealed with a sticker and placed carefully inside the box. This has the added benefit that the cardboard box can be easily (and cleanly) recycled afterwards, thanks to the lack of a plastic window.
Now I turn to the fun part - the tasting. Before I share my thoughts, I let's look at the ingredients lists to see what's going on.
Oski's Earl Grey Milk Chocolate ingredients:
Milk Chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring), black tea, oil of bergamot, blue cornflowers, mallow flowers. Minimum 33.6% cocoa solids.
Oski's Chai White Chocolate ingredients:
White Chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring), black tea, cinnamon, aniseed, ginger, black pepper cloves, chicory root.Minimum 28% cocoa solids.
As I'm sure you'll agree, both lists are short and sweet - chocolate blended with tea and spices. A brief ingredients list is a reassuring sign that Oski's uses a few high quality ingredients, a fact confirmed by founder Kate's note that they make use of tea from a local independent tea business in both chocolates.
Bear in mind that as these chocolates contain actual tea (not a synthetic flavouring), they aren't suitable for children nor pregnant women. If you're a bit iffy with caffeine or are trying to cut down on your intake, it's best to skip these.
In terms of the chocolate, I'd describe both boxes as containing shards. Instead of a single 100g slab of chocolate, Oski's creates larger slabs and breaks them up into irregular pieces for their 100g boxes. This rustic approach works very well as every piece is unique in shape and thickness. It feels more homely than a moulded slab.
Oski's Chai White Chocolate
My only real experience of Chai is in latte form. Thanks to the chain coffee shops, Masala Chai is now ubiquitously known outside of its birthplace of India. In essence, strong black tea such as Assam is spiked with a blend of warming spices. Recipes differ, but many will look to cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and cloves as the key spices to use. Mace, chilli, black cardamom, coriander, cumin, rose, and liquorice root can even make their way into some blends.
As The Kitchn explains, the drink is then made with milk rather than water. It's therefore no surprise that Oski's looked to blend a creamy white chocolate with black tea and spices including cinnamon, aniseed, ginger, black pepper cloves, and chicory root.
It's those spices that hit your nose first, followed by a creamy aroma from the white chocolate. The cinnamon and nutmeg dominate the scent with a gentle liquorice spice bringing up the rear.
The chocolate is speckled with all the tea and ground spices contained inside. The bar has a beautiful glossy shine to it, with light scuffs the result of mingling with the other shards in the bag. A clean snap makes it a doddle to portion further, although I'd argue a shard is a good benchmark for a portion.
Tasting the chocolate, there's a clean bite to it, with a very mild grittiness courtesy of the inclusions. The creaminess of the white chocolate coats my palate ready for the spices to come through. It doesn't take long for the spices to dance away, and the taste then perfectly matches the aroma. Cinnamon and nutmeg dominate with a very slight spiciness at the rear end. The creaminess continues into the aftertaste while the spices mellow out so that no one flavour lingers. The sweetness of the white chocolate really comes through after several bites, but the spices work hard to temper the overall tasting profile.
If you are addicted to Chai Tea Lattes, you need to try this. It's evident this flavour combination has been carefully developed to balance its constituent parts. The white chocolate sets a smooth and creamy foundation for the spices to do their thing, and the spices keep the sweetness in check. The delicate balance is clearly evident as no one flavour is allowed to run away.
I get hints of the black tea but it's not a particularly distinguishable flavour and I'm not sure I'd miss it if it wasn't there. This may well open up development potential to make a tea-free version for those that don't cope well with caffeine.
Oski's Chai White Chocolate Review
RRP: £3.75 | Oski's | Shop now
A creamy white chocolate base with fresh and vibrant chai tea flavours allowed to sing loud and clear. A beautiful combination that's an absolute pleasure to eat.
Oski's Earl Grey Milk Chocolate
I won't lie - I'm a builder's tea man. English Breakfast Tea does me just fine, although I prefer the tea bag to steep for a long time to get the best out of it.
I jump ship to Earl Grey only on holiday, when I've used all the English Breakfast Tea bags in the hotel room and am left with a choice of either Earl Grey or fruit tea. We can argue all day long but fruit tea just isn't proper tea, so Earl Grey is the only sensible choice here!
Earl Grey is a blended tea which sees black tea spiked with oil of bergamot, a type of orange native to France and Italy. While I wouldn't ordinarily choose to sip on a cup of Earl Grey, I do like the flavour. Which is a good thing as this box contains milk chocolate blended with black tea, bergamot, blue cornflowers, and mallow flowers.
A gentle citrus note emanates from the chocolate, which nails Earl Grey tea perfectly. The milk chocolate follows next, with an intoxicating aroma that transports me back to the cosy chocolate shops in Bruges. It really is a heavenly combination.
As with the Chai White Chocolate, the shards are beautifully shiny, although the milk chocolate shows up more of the scuffs caused by the shards rubbing together in transit than the white chocolate does.
Another clean snap is music to my ears, and the taste is equally satisfying. The smooth milk chocolate makes way for the tea right at the beginning. There's no doubt that the tea and bergamot is the dominant force in the beginning. But mid-way, the mix morphs so that the rich and creamy chocolate shines through. But in the aftertaste, the pair settle down and harmonise, with a notes of both the milk chocolate and tea in equal proportions. It's another beautiful match.
In terms of texture, the tea stands out for adding a subtle crunchiness. It seems to stand out more than in the Chai White Chocolate, possibly as there are fewer ground spices in the mix here so can be more clearly detected.
I can't identify the blue cornflowers or mallow flowers in the aroma or taste, so guess these are used to help enhance the flavours of both the tea and the bergamot in much the same way that salt is used to enhance the flavour of caramel.
Oski's Earl Grey Milk Chocolate Review
RRP: £3.75 | Oski's | Shop now
A gentle Earl Grey flavour against a milk chocolate backdrop. It's perfectly formulated to allow the tea to shine with accents of creaminess and richness from the milk chocolate.
What's the Verdict?
I'll hold my hand up, I wasn't sure tea and chocolate would be best friends. Coffee and chocolate go back yonks, but tea and chocolate isn't a happy combination that springs to mind.
But Oski's has provided that it can - and does - work, beautifully. The Chai Latte is a thrilling cacophony of spices that work irresistibly with the white chocolate. I don't think I could tire of this combination. The Earl Grey is equally as good and places more of an emphasis on the quality of tea. It's a gentle flavour that is clear and concise.
Both varieties are perfectly balanced so that no one flavour dominates the overall aroma or taste profiles, and both round off nicely without any unpleasantness. These are both great examples of how a few simple ingredients can be expertly blended into chocolate that you'll want to savour.
Where to Buy Online
Which should you choose if you could only pick one? If you want something with a more pronounced tea flavour, order a box of the Earl Grey chocolate. If gentle spices are more your thing then you'll love the Chai Latte chocolate. Both examples are superb and I wouldn't hesitate purchasing more treats from the Oski's range.
What do you think about blending tea with chocolate? Do you love the concept or think a mug of tea and a bar of chocolate is a better option? Let me know in the comments below.