When Ann Louise Roswald, Creative Director of H. R. Higgins, asked me if I’d like to sample their tea and truffle pairing in return for writing a few words about the experience, I was happy to accept. I quickly told my closest group of friends, fellow dog-walkers who I see while out walking most days come rain, shine or bitter coastal wind. We promptly planned our tasting event. This was back in October, before Lockdown 2.0 was announced when we were casually enjoying the relative freedoms of the East Kent Coast in Tier 1.
Launch date for H. R. Higgins Coffee-Man’s collaboration with The Highland Chocolatier, Iain Burnett was 5th November 2020. My perfectly wrapped parcel with dramatic black satin ribbon and custom designed paper arrived soon after.
The issue now was how to navigate November’s Lockdown restrictions and continue with our group tasting, as planned. A video call would be the only way, as none of us could bear to wait for December’s new rules (a good decision in turns out with Kent jumping up two places to Tier 3!).nWe would be three households; our single tasting flight was divided, and we arranged our Zoom session, with Ann Louise planning to join us from her Yorkshire base.
The full Chocolate and Tea Tasting Flight includes four types of tea, generously supplied in 125g bags, with four of each of the paired truffles, plus a further four truffles which aren’t part of the tasting but as an added extra flavour sensation. Don’t be deceived by their dainty demeanour; the truffles are rich, and the recommendation is to cut each one into quarters – in order to sip and savour the flavours, going backwards and forwards between tea and truffle to experience the different layers.
Their roots maybe in coffee beans, but H. R. Higgins are clearly just as fanatical about tea. Tony and David Higgins present a 30-minute guided session on YouTube, father and son taste the teas and truffles together – a tutorial for those who want to delve a little deeper into the experience, it’s optional but highly recommended. Watching the film, you not only to learn some techniques of tasting tea, it also provides a warm and wonderful insight into a father-son relationship, it’s a gentle Slow-food-esque wander through tea drinking.
Our tasting journey begins with a White Lime and a Hint of Chilli Velvet Truffle paired with Ceylon Dimbula, a black tea, from Sri Lanka. The tea leaves are a beautiful rich chocolate brown colour, and very finely cut. Don’t over brew the tea we are warned! It’s a full bodied traditional English style tea in flavour. Paired with the citrus Lime truffle the tea tastes bright and zesty, “like having a slice of lemon” with just the hint of chilli perfectly pairing with the warmth of the rich tea. It’s a strong start.