May We Suggest Some Cocoa Nib Tea?

If you love hot chocolate but don't care for all the calories, there's a slimmer and tasty alternative: cocoa nib tea.

The Nibs

As you may know, cocoa nibs are ground-up cocoa bean fragments that haven't been processed beyond the basic drying, fermenting, and roasting process that all cocoa beans go through. They're dry, crunchy, and quite bitter flavored.

Admittedly, cocoa nibs aren't standard supermarket fare, but you may be able to get them at a chocolatier's, some specialty cooking stores, and of course on the Internet.

There are two basic ways to prepare cocoa nibs as tea: you can either brew them alone, to produce a thin elixir that smells and tastes like cocoa, but without the body or calories; or you can actually brew them with conventional teas, which allows you to mix and match the flavors in interesting ways.

Pure Nib Tea

Pure nib tea is fairly simple to make: just pour a tablespoon of nibs into a cup, add boiling water, and allow it to steep for five minutes. Then strain the tea and enjoy. If you've got one of those perforated tea balls, you can use that instead of simply pouring the water right on top of the nibs, and not have to strain at all.

Now, be aware that the infusion will both smell and taste like unsweetened chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate can be surprisingly bitter. If that's to your liking, the more power to you; but I'd recommend a little sweetener with your nib tea. Or you could always do like the Aztecs, and add chili peppers. Your choice.

Incidentally, if you don't get sufficient flavor from the nibs, considering grinding them coarsely before infusing. It's probably better to do this by hand than by running them through your coffee mill, or the mill will add the taste of chocolate to your coffee for a while. Not that this is a bad thing.

With Conventional Teas

For a more interesting concoction, it's a simple matter to add tea to the mix. In this case, go with a tablespoon of nibs and a teaspoon of your favorite tea: oolong, Earl Gray, Red Zinger, whatever floats your boat. Add water just like before, and wait.

Conventional teas offer a world of flavor, and you can experiment with all kinds to determine which one you like best to form your own signature cocoa nib tea.