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Most people know that chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, but have you ever seen where the cocoa bean comes from? Cocoa trees are abundant in Grenada, and you’ll see large, leafy trees covered with dangling yellow, orange, and red pods all over the island. When you slice a cocoa pod open (with your machete, of course), you’ll find a cluster of seeds inside covered with juicy, white flesh. If you ever get a chance to taste the flesh of a cocoa bean, it tastes similar to soursop or mangosteen — sweet, creamy, and delicious.

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But, of course, the main attraction is the cocoa bean itself. :) I had the chance to visit Belmont Estate, a fully functioning 17th-century plantation in Grenada, where they have a cocoa processing plant. I talk about the whole process in greater detail here if you’re interested in finding out more about how cocoa is made. It’s really quite fascinating, and it’s especially amazing how the Grenada Chocolate Company produces its organic cocoa with sustainable/carbon-neutral practices like sun-drying and sailboat exporting!


Cocoa tea tastes to me like Grenada in a cup. The bitterness of the pure, dark chocolate combines with hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves to create a drink that is one part hot chocolate, one part spiced tea.  To make cocoa balls, cocoa beans are dried, roasted, ground into a fine paste and then mixed with spices and rolled into balls. For this recipe, I used cocoa balls from Grenada to make cocoa tea (which you can buy here), but you can easily replicate this recipe by using 100% unsweetened dark chocolate.

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Cocoa Tea
Serves 2 – 3

2 cocoa balls (or 1 oz. 100% unsweetened dark chocolate)
2 cups water
1/2 – 1 cup milk (to taste)
sugar to taste

Optional: (definitely add some of these in if you’re not using a cocoa ball)
cinnamon stick
bay leaf
ground nutmeg

1. Bring two cups of water to a boil.

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2. While waiting for water to boil, grate the cocoa balls directly into the water. By the time you finish grating, the water should be at a boil. You can actually just throw the ball in the water without grating, but I prefer to grate the chocolate to avoid lumps.

3. Add in additional spices if desired.  I like to throw in some extra cinnamon and some ground nutmeg.

4. Let the cocoa simmer for 10 minutes, until everything is fully dissolved.

IMG_2692 copy5. Strain directly into a mug and serve hot.

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6. Add in milk and sugar to taste. For a richer drink more similar to hot chocolate, add more milk and sugar. For more of a “tea,” use less milk and sugar. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, add in a dash of rum. :)
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