Jamaica Gleaner / Jamaican home-made chocolate, is not like other hot chocolates that you get in sachets at the supermarket. Just ask Inez Bellanfantie about this authentically Jamaican beverage and you will get an explanation like no other – on the border of enjoyment and caution.
Known by members of her community as ‘Miss Tiny’, Bellanfantie makes and sells the chocolate. She has been selling the product for over 20 years.
Bringing the beverage to life
The chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao pods, which are harvested from the cacao tree. The pods are then opened to remove the seeds. Miss Tiny doesn’t have cacao tree, so she purchases the seeds from cacao farmers in and around the community of Time and Patience, located just outside of Linstead.
Miss Tiny dries her seeds on a piece of zinc or banana leaves in the front of her home, for about a week or two. This weeklong exposure of the cacao seeds to the sun, removes all the moisture from the seeds, which is essential for the real chocolate flavour.
When the seeds are completely dried, Miss Tiny then roasts them in a Dutch pot. The seeds are then ground with a mortar and pestle. This, she confesses, is the most time-consuming part of the process. But this is where Miss Tiny’s grandchildren come into play. At this point, she carefully places the seeds in the mortar along with the right amount of grated nutmeg and allows them to take turns beating the seeds to a pulp.
She then uses her hands to form the grounded chocolate into golf-sized balls, and they are then placed to dry.
The chocolate tea is made by grating the chocolate balls on a medium-grain grater, and then boiling the grated chocolate with water. Dried cinnamon sticks or leaves are always boiled with the chocolate added to the Jamaican hot chocolate tea during the boiling process to enhance the tea’s flavour.
Miss Tiny sweetens her Jamaican chocolate tea with coconut milk (which she says gives it a better taste than other milk), sugar, and salt to her liking. The finished product is then strained into each cup and carefully sipped to one’s enjoyment.
Well you might be wondering why you should sip cautiously. I can tell you this, because chocolate is naturally oily, when it is made into tea, the oil rises to the top and that hot oil will scorch your lips and tongue. If you have ever been scorched by chocolate tea, you will know that in the moment, you won’t know whether to spit it out or swallow it. It’s a true experience, trust me.
So please ensure that you are careful when you serve the big breakfast with the Jamaican hot chocolate tea.