Greetings Foodtopia chocolate fans! Most Ashevillian’s would agree that no dinner downtown is complete without a stop at French Broad Chocolate Lounge! French Broad has been one of the most popular chocolate shops in Asheville since it opened, and is definitely home to some of Asheville’s best desserts! One of our personal seasonal favorites offered by French Broad Chocolates was their Lapsang bar; a perfect combination of smoked tea and fruity dark chocolate. The bar was taken off the shelf last year and has definitely been missed, so we are excited to share with you that it has now been re-invented and re-introduced into their permanent collection!! Below is a description of the conception and creation process of Asheville’s new favorite chocolate bar!
We at French Broad Chocolates would like to (re)introduce you to a chocolate bar that has probably the strongest following of any chocolate we’ve ever made. It was a top seller from 2012-2015 and we only stopped making it because we were forced to: the exceptional Peruvian cacao which we used to make our beloved Tumbes 70% dark chocolate got the worldwide recognition it deserved, and the entire harvest last year and this were pre-purchased by a few larger French chocolate makers!
Not wanting to make any hasty changes, we made the difficult choice to shelve this bar until we could reformulate it in a way that did justice to its ingredients. Our chocolate makers have been working hard and we are finally ready to reintroduce an old favorite. Without further ado, we are over the moon to be re-releasing our Lapsang Souchong bar, as Smoked Tea & Sea Salt Dark Chocolate, as the 9th member of our our permanent lineup!
Our Guatemala 73% dark chocolate is now the base for this bar, and we’ve added Carolina Flake sea salt from our friends Bulls Bay Saltworks (the closest salt production to Asheville, and the same as we use on our 75% dark chocolate Sea Salt bar). Dobra Tea Asheville inspired the original flavor pairing, and continues to provide us with directly-sourced Lapsang Souchong tea, which is generously sprinkled on the back of the bar along with the salt.
When you meet someone who “gets you”, who shares your values and your worldview, it can be exhilarating! That’s just how we felt when we met Andrew Snavely, owner of Dobra Tea, who we immediately recognized as a kindred spirit, sharing our philosophies about direct sourcing and honoring the hard work of the farmers with our craft. Andrew reminisces, “I met Dan and Jael the first year I moved to Asheville. I loved and believed in their motto and sourcing, which is so similar to ours.” Conversations with Andrew would leave us energized, knowing we were in the same corner, creating meaningful relationships and making a positive impact in the world.
Dobra “devoteas” travel annually to the different tea growing countries to source from small family farms. “We like to say we’re still farm to table- we establish relationships with the families.” Snavely continues… “I would rather directly support a farmer hand in hand. Going to the root and learning the technique and traditions has allowed us to help keep them alive without westernizing them.”
Originating in the Fujian province of China, Lapsang is a black tea. “Souchong” refers to the bottom leaves of the plant, which are coarser than the tips and contain less aromatic compounds. These bottom leaves are smoked in bamboo baskets called “honglongs”over a fire of pine logs, which imparts the smoky flavor and aroma that we love so much. Andrew explains “Say you’re at a campfire with your sweatshirt on, the next day you can still smell the fire on your shirt. That’s what’s happening to the tea.”
Black tea with the warming aroma of a campfire? Yes, please.
Andrew had a desire to pair Lapsang Souchong with chocolate ever since our first conversation about collaboration. It took a couple years for the vision to manifest, but when our head chocolate maker, Crawford, sprinkled some on the back of a bar of fruity dark chocolate, we knew we had a winner. Added to our chocolate, the smoked tea is sublime. We love how the bright, fruity notes of our Guatemalan cacao play off the deep smoky flavor profile of the Lapsang. A touch of sea salt enhances both elements. Like kindred spirits, these flavors belong together, and bring out the best in one another.
Visit Dobra Tea at any of their three gorgeous tea houses in Asheville. Or sip an infusion at the Chocolate Lounge, where we proudly serve a variety of their black, green, and oolong teas, alongside our handcrafted chocolates and desserts.
Our food tours are lucky enough to visit French Broad Chocolates every day of the week where our guests get the opportunity to try some of Asheville’s best chocolate bars, truffles and other baked goods! We hope to be able to sample this new version of the smoked tea bar soon!!