Since the month of December is for trying Christmas themed bars and I wanted to try other flavors than peppermint, I was very intrigued when I found Raaka’s Pine Needle bar and knew I had to try it.
According to the packaging, the Douglas fir tips originated from Juniper Ridge. A Google search brought me to a Douglas fir tip tea by Juniper Ridge. Because the bar didn’t taste like it had any crunchy bits inside, and if Raaka indeed used this, I’m guessing this tea could have been infused with the chocolate?
The bar faintly smelled of pine/evergreen (according to this site, Douglas fir is not a true fir or pine, but it is an evergreen). The chocolate melted easily, had a sharp bite like vinegar, and tasted like that pine needle scent you get when you walk into a Michael’s craft store when they put their Christmas decorations out. The vinegar turned into a wine-like flavor and the pine remained throughout the rest of my bite. The boyfriend tasted something like raisins or tart grape when he tried the chocolate.
The packaging says that lapsang souchong tea and chai spices were used in this bar. According to this site, laspsang souchong tea is originally from the Fujian province of China and is known for its smoky flavor, which is created by drying the tea over a smoking pine fire. This makes sense since the tasting notes on the chocolate packaging lists smoke and pine.
The bar smelled smoky, spiced and savory like as if I were smelling beef jerky. The flavor of chai first hit my taste buds quickly followed by smokiness. The smokiness reminded me of the scent I’ve once smelled from some kind of bourbon. The pine flavor came next and was similar in the wine or vinegar-like bite as the Pine Needle chocolate bar. My bite ended with smokiness and the pine flavor. The boyfriend also agreed that the smoky scent reminded him of beef jerky but flavor-wise was similar to bourbon. The ingredients list included not just the cacao, sugar, cocoa butter and tea, but also marshmallow root, coriander and black cardamom.
If you need to watch your sugar intake, this bar would be worth trying since it doesn’t include sugar but yacon root. The packaging says yacon is a Peruvian root. Wikipedia says yacon is related to daisies, sunflowers and artichokes, and is grown in parts of the Andes. It’s known for its sweetness with some floral undertones. It’s called jicama in Ecuador, and I think I’ve seen jicama listed as an ingredient in chocolate bars before. The tasting notes listed on Raaka’s packaging were raisins, oat and beets.
I could definitely smell raisin. The chocolate tasted bitter at first while the raisin flavor started to creep in, though it was barely detectable. You know, I can’t remember what beets taste like, but there was something like an organic vegetable flavor in there. Maybe this was the floral undertone from yacon I was tasting? The boyfriend tasted something like cloves and some sort of rich, pungent flavor. My bite seemed very bitter to me and not sweet despite the yacon root.
All three bars were very unique and new experiences for my taste buds. I can’t say I was immediately in love with the yacon bar, but I’m very intrigued by the pine flavors in the Pine Needle and Smoked Chai bars. I wonder if I’ll be seeing yacon used by other chocolate makers since it’s being used as a substitute for sugar.
Raaka: Made in Brooklyn, NY
These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.