Ok, I'm finally going to address these Starbuck's chocolates that I have yet to do and since there are five different items to cover I'm going to do a short little blurby bits for each one. That way I can (try and fail to ) keep from rambling and being at this all night and ignoring the rabbit (she gets fussy when I pay more attention to the computer than her). First up are the Chocolate and Tea Tasting Squares.
Chai Milk Chocolate: A combination of Tazo Chai tea and milk chocolate (as if the name didn't give it away). Chai sometimes turns me off when in chocolate because it can overwhelm the chocolate and leave you with nothing but the chai. In this case it turns out to work well. The whole thing smells lightly spicy and the taste delivers on the smell's promise. It's a nice comfortable spicy and balances with the chocolate nicely and the tea lends it a little texture (not quite grainy and not quite crunchy). This is by far my favorite piece out of today's items. 8.5 out of 10. Tasty.
Passion Dark Chocolate: While the Chai was my favorite, the Passion is my least favorite. I complain about what I perceive to be out of balance a lot and this - while I do like it - is way out of balance. The Passion tea is based around hibiscus with citrus, rose hips, mango, and passion fruit. I find the whole thing to be like flowers and strange fruit (I don't eat a lot of mango or passion fruit so to me it's all strange). The aroma is about half and half floral and citrus and the flavor is mostly floral with a little of the fruity twang around the edges and little explosions of fruit in the cruncy little bits in it. And talk about grainy. You'll note that I've yet to mention the chocolate. The chocolate is easy to miss in the whole overwhelming assault of flowers and fruit. I want to like it. I like the flavors. I don't mind the grain (I like different textures in my chocolate). I just think that the tea should be toned WAY back. It completely overpowers the chocolate. I can't go much above a 4.5 on this one. It's too one sided.
Citron Dark Chocolate: This is more like it. The Citron tea is based around ceylon leaves with lemon oil and pairs well with chocolate. The aroma is mostly a hint of lemon and not much else. The flavor is nice with the tea, lemon, and chocolate playing well together. The thing that had me scratching me head (and running to other blogs for confirmation) was the weird nature of the lemon flavor. It tastes like lemon, but with no twang. It's like a non-citrus lemon. I know they're doing the whole name brand thing here, but they would be better served to pair ceylong tea leaves and lemon zest in the chocolate (though that would probably limit shelf life in a big way compared to what you want in a mass market product moving primarily in the drug and grocery stores). Honestly, I'd rather see a ceylon and lemon zest truffle, but I'm just the consumer here. As might be expected there is a grain to this one as well, leaving me trying to lick my teeth clean afterward. It's not a terrible grain or anything, but it's a trifle annoying. Still, the piece does more right than wrong and I enjoy it to the tune of a 7.5 out of 10.
It's kind of funny. I was really up on these after first trying them and when I go back to actually evaluate them I find that I loved one, liked one, and was really disappointed with one, but it was the one I liked that made the lasting impression. Strange. Well, it's certainly worth a taste if you are so inclined, though the price might be a little high for 2.64oz of chocolate. I can't give it a wholehearted recommendation, but I think it's interesting. If you really like the idea of tea and chocolate then I have a couple of recommendations I'll make in the near future.
Now, on to the truffles!
Chai Truffles: Well, here we are again with the Tazo Chai, this time in a truffle. Well, given how much I liked the tasting square it seems like a foregone conclusion that I would be all about this. Well, I do like it a lot, but I really prefer the tasting square to the truffle. I think it's to do with the filling. It's a non-chocolate filling which, in theory, isn't necessarily a bad thing (I have a bugaboo about calling anything a truffle if it doesn't have a ganache filling), but in this case I just don't like it as much as I do with just the tea and chocolate. It's still pretty good, though. I'll call it a 7.5 out of 10. Good, and something I'm likely to try again (especially if I find it on overstock clearance again).
Caffè Mocha Truffles: These are pretty straightforward. The truffle itself is designed with a couple of raised bean shaped bits on it which is cute and even in the wrap I can tell from the aroma there is some coffee action going on it it. Flavor-wise, well, it's tastes like your standard café mocha confection. It's tasty. It could stand a little more punch to the flavor, but it's pretty good. I generally avoid coffee (caffeine issues and a general avoidance of hot beverages in anything but the coldest months), but when I indulge I want some serious flavor. This comes close. I like it enough to call it a 7 out of 10.
So I've gone through a number of the Starbucks pieces now and the trend is generally positive. I think that the choice to go with something more than just the straight-up Hershey's chocolate was a good one (the read-between-the-lines answer to the chocolate is that it's Scharffen Berger). I think that a number of these pieces would fall flat with the normal Hershey's and Special Dark (which I hate). So Starbuck's first excursion into the world of chocolate seems to be working to varying degrees. Of course it all comes down to personal taste and whether one is willing to support both Starbucks and Hershey's, but if you don't mind the source then you just might find something to you liking.