This Caribbean drink isn’t really tea…nor is it hot chocolate. It’s the essence of tropical island goodness in a cup.
Of all the Caribbean drinks we’ve tasted, nothing is more fascinating than chocolate tea. It’s neither tea nor hot chocolate, but something in between. However, despite its peculiar name, we assure you that it’s absolutely delicious.
Chocolate tea is made hot, and the chocolatey goodness of fresh cocoa balls or sticks is grated into a boiled mixture of milk and water. Next, a plethora of spices are added: nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Then, a dollop of condensed milk adds a touch a sweetness.
Of course, the exact recipe varies by island. Some recipes even contain salt, or a hearty bay leaf. Nevertheless, the one ingredient that never changes is the cocoa.
For a truly great batch of cocoa tea, you absolutely must have pure, unsweetened, non-processed cocoa– not that powdery stuff from the supermarket. Cocoa balls and sticks can be found in many Caribbean countries. For many years, the Caribbean chocolate industry was a huge contributor to the economies of many island countries.
In order to make the cocoa balls or sticks needed for chocolate tea, fresh cocoa beans must be roasted, ground, and spiced. Before the advent of industrial machines, workers would dry the beans in the sun, and then “dance the cocoa”. This involved literally dancing in bare feet on a pile of beans, kicking them around to some traditional Caribbean tunes. They would polish those beans until they shined.
Nowadays, you can still see the traditional cocoa dancing process at cultural events in countries like Trinidad and Tobago.
The perfect morning cup
Although many folks in North America and Europe start off their mornings with a cup of coffee, the Caribbean morning drink of choice is often cocoa tea. Sometimes, they accompany it with bread or cookies. Often, it’s an important part of a Caribbean breakfast, and St. Lucians even boil dumplings right in the tea to make a complete meal.
Chocolate Tea Recipes
You’re probably wondering where you can get some of this chocolatey goodness. Traveling to a Caribbean country is definitely a great idea, but if you can’t hop on a plane at the moment, there’s another alternative. You can make some chocolate tea at home!
Of course, Caribbean cocoa balls or sticks may not be easy to find near you. But no worries– you can substitute ground and roasted cacao nibs (you can find them at health food or specialty food stores). Here are a few recipes to choose from:
- Caribbean Cocoa Tea (with cinnamon, milk, sugar, and cornstarch)
- Traditional recipe from Trinidad and Tobago (milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sweetener)
- Jamaican Chocolate Tea (with white overproof rum, cinnamon, and nutmeg)
- St. Lucia Cocoa Tea (cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla)
If you enjoy cocoa tea, you might enjoy these Caribbean recipes as well:
Main image source: Jamaicans.com