I learned of River Sea Chocolates through the D.C. Chocolate Festival and I was glad to see that they added to the few number of chocolate makers based out of Virginia. Virginia is now my home state (New Jersey still remains in my heart) so whenever I hear of any new chocolate makers pop up here, it makes me very happy! What was pleasantly surprising is that River Sea is based out of Sterling, which is in the northern part of Virginia and not too far from my current stomping grounds (but that will change in a year or two). If you’ve ever flown through Dulles International Airport, you were very close to Sterling.
I like that the back of every bar says that River Sea Chocolates “partners with small-scale growers who use sustainable farming methods that prevent deforestation and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers or pesticides that could harm bio-diversity”. According to their website, their name was inspired by the “world’s cacao grow[ing] in coastal jungle areas influenced by the daily flow of the tide”. You can read more about their name origin here.
It’s perfect that I’m trying this matcha bar because this morning I tried to make a matcha cake roll, which didn’t work out well, but basically matcha is the theme today. I also made a matcha latte for the first time and thankfully that worked out way better than the cake roll. If you’ve been following my blog or social media you’d know that I LOVE any chocolate that has matcha in it.
I remember this was the first bar I wanted to try at River-Sea’s table during the D.C. Chocolate Festival. The ingredients consist of cocoa butter from Ecuador, whole cow milk from Brazil, cane sugar from Brazil and Gyokuro leaves from Japan. Usually I see “matcha powder” being used so I’m curious if River-Sea ground up the Gyokuro to obtain their matcha. Their website says that “matcha green tea leaves” were used. From what I understand, sencha, matcha, even black and other teas come from the same type of leaf and its the growth and preparation of the leaves prior to consumption that makes their differences in flavor, so the way it was listed on the bar is no big deal, just interesting.
There was a subtle matcha scent with creaminess from the white chocolate base. As expected, this bar was creamy goodness with some subtle bitter but delicious matcha flavors (matcha alone is naturally bitter). As usual this bar will not last long as I’ll probably eat the whole thing in one sitting since most matcha bars end that way in my hands.
The milk chocolate hemp bar is made up of cocoa beans from Ecuador, cane sugar from Brazil, help seeds from the United States and cocoa butter from Tanzania. I remember sampling this bar at the D.C. Chocolate Festival as well and I was intrigued in trying a chocolate bar with hemp in it for the first time. I’m not familiar with the flavor of hemp and before people go all crazy, a quick Google search shows that though hemp is a variety of cannabis it is NOT the same as marijuana and it lacks THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes the psychological effects that marijuana has on its users. Go to this website and read the differences for yourself if you’re getting worked up.
I got a subtle herby smell and chocolaty creaminess. River Sea’s website describes this bar as “fudgy, nutty, nourishing and rich”. I definitely experience a fudgy texture though more of a roasted than nutty flavor. If the flavor is viewed as nutty, it would be like roasted walnuts. There is a subtle herby flavor going on in the background as well. I would actually be interested in trying hemp in a dark chocolate.
The 72% bar consists of cocoa beans from Tanzania, cane sugar from Brazil and cocoa butter from Ecuador. Their website says the bar is “made from Kokoa Kamili Certified Organic Cacao Beans and then roasted using our Alchemist Roast”. My guess is that they referred to John Nanci’s Chocolate Alchemist posts (such as this one) to learn about roasting cocoa/cacao beans, but there aren’t any other specifics about what Alchemist Roast means.
The flavor notes are listed as cherry, coffee and lemon. The scent reminds me of jerky with roasted notes, but once my bite started to melt I could see why River Sea chose those flavor notes. It does seem like a fruity, roasted flavor combo with a slight touch of acidity. As my bite melted further, I was reminded of woody flavors, like a finished wood table, and tobacco.
While the match bar will certainly not last long in my hands, I’ll be taking my time with the other two bars. The hemp and the flavor combo of the 72% Tanzanian bars were different for my palate in a good way. I’m looking forward to trying more of River Sea’s bars in the future!
River Sea Chocolates: Made in Sterling, VA
These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. 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.