Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea) is a delicious, silky smooth blend of natural cacao, cinnamon and nutmeg, simmered to toasty, chocolatey perfection and sweetened with condensed milk! This versatile Caribbean drink is popular during the holidays but also serves as a warm, decadent treat that is perfect for any time of year!
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Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea)
I knew it would be a great day when the aroma of hot cocoa tea would hit my nose first thing in the morning. Each time I sip this warming hot cocoa, I’m reminded of mornings with my grandmothers and most certainly Christmas mornings.
In Caribbean households, this delicious beverage is not only a holiday treat but also a year-round staple! This is true because tea is a term used for all warm beverages from the everyday herbal tea to coffee and even baby milk or formula. I love preparing this chocolate tea when I want a warm drink to cozy up with – especially during the cold winter months!
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- A Chocolate Lover’s Dream – the chocolate in this recipe comes from raw cocoa and has a deep, rich chocolatey flavour.
- Better than Store Bought – this isn’t the powdered hot cocoa that you’re used to! Caribbean hot cocoa tea does not contain additives, preservatives or any of those unnatural ingredients. It tastes better and it’s definitely better for you.
- Quick and Easy – who knew homemade hot cocoa could be this simple? It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
What is Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea)?
Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea) is a hot beverage made from raw cocoa balls or sticks. The cocoa balls are grated, boiled in hot water, then simmered with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and sweetened with a sweetener of choice.
What are the Different Names for Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea)?
Throughout the Caribbean islands, this beverage is called by various names but they all refer to the same drink.
- Chocolate Tea
- Cocoa Tea
- Hot Chocolate
- Hot Cocoa Tea
How are Cocoa Balls (Sticks) Made?
Cocoa balls are made from cacao pod seeds. The seeds are left out in the sun to dry for weeks to months. This process removes all moisture and also intensifies the chocolate flavour. This takes time but yields the distinct flavour that we love.
The seeds are roasted, ground, and then moulded into balls or sticks. Then they are grated and used in various recipes, like this Caribbean Chocolate Tea recipe.
What Does Cocoa Tea Taste Like?
Caribbean cocoa tea will most likely be unlike any chocolate beverage you’ve tried before. It has a very deep, rich and bitter taste. These flavours are balanced with the sweetness of the milk and sweetener of choice and spiced with the warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg.
What’s Needed to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)
- Grater – to grate the cocoa balls.
- Measuring Cups/Spoons – for accurate measuring of ingredients.
- Saucepan – to boil and simmer the ingredients.
- Strainer and/or Cheesecloth – to remove the bits of undissolved chocolate, leaves and sticks from the beverage when it is done simmering.
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
- Water – the main liquid in this recipe.
- Raw Cocoa – usually comes as packs of 2 to 4 in the shape of round balls or sticks. Take your time to grater these.
- Cinnamon Stick – infuses cinnamon flavour into the beverage.
- Cinnamon Leaf or Bay Leaf – for a refreshing, slightly spicy taste.
- Ground Nutmeg – for a warm, nutty flavour.
- Salt – completely optional, some use to round out all the flavours and notes.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk – I used this but you can use the sugar/sweetener of your choice.
How to Make Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea)
Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil the water.
Add Ingredients and Simmer
Add the grated chocolate, cinnamon/bay leaf, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, and salt; stir well. Then reduce the heat to medium low and allow the chocolate tea to gently simmer, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Steep, Strain and Serve
Remove from heat, cover pot, and allow the chocolate tea to steep, for another 10 minutes. When ready to serve, strain, sweeten to taste with condensed milk or sugar and serve while hot.
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Cocoa balls can dissolve in boiling water, so you can skip the grating step if you prefer however it will take much, much longer.
- Taste test. Before serving try a bit and make adjustments if necessary.
- Remember to strain it. This removes cinnamon sticks and leaves so the drink goes down nice and smooth.
Recipe Substitutions and Tips
- Dairy – you can add any preferred milk to your cocoa tea, whether 2%, whole milk, or nut-milks will all work well.
- Consistency – some recipes include flour as a thickener, but this is not necessary. If you prefer a thicker consistency, add more chocolate and use milk as your base (whole milk or oat/cashew milk) as well as simmer for longer. This will give you a thicker consistency.
- Spices – try adding in a little pinch of allspice, star anise or bay/cinnamon leaves for added flavour.
- Vegan/Non-Dairy – swap the condensed milk for sweetened coconut milk, vegan condensed milk or another plant-based milk.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
This beloved Caribbean beverage is usually served on Christmas mornings along with a breakfast like Ackee and Saltfish. Traditional Jamaican hot cocoa tea does not come topped with whipped cream but it could be a tasty, decadent inclusion.
Can I Make this Ahead of Time?
You can definitely prep your main ingredient ahead of time. Grate your cocoa balls ahead of time then store the grated cocoa in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last up to 6 months and you can use the cocoa whenever you want to make a batch of cocoa tea.
I do not recommend storing Jamaican hot cocoa tea for later. Enjoy it fresh out of the pot.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Standard hot chocolate comes in powder form and includes additives. Jamaican hot cocoa is completely natural and comes from cacao. The taste is also completely different.
No, it is not. A fun fact about Jamaican culture is that we often refer to beverages as “tea” even when they’re not.
If you live in the Caribbean, they are easy to find in your local market or grocery store. If you live elsewhere, check a West Indian market or an online retailer.
Interested in more Jamaican Recipes? Check These Out!
- Tropical Rum Punch
- Mango Scotch Bonnet Daiquiri
- Jamaican Guinness Punch
- How to Soak Fruit for Christmas Cake
- Jamaican Coconut Drops
- Gungo Peas Soup
- Jamaican Red Peas Soup
- Jamaican Curry Goat
- Ackee and Saltfish
- Brown Stew Fish
- Jamaican Oxtail Recipe
- Jerk Chicken Sandwich
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Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea)
- Measuring Cups/Spoons
- 2 cup Water
- 3 whole Chocolate Balls grated, about 1/2 cup.
- 2 cup Milk more or less as desired
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 tsp Fresh Nutmeg grated, or 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 Cinnamon Leaf or Bay Leaf, optional
- 1/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk or sugar/sweetener of choice, as desired
- Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil the water with one cinnamon stick.
- Add the grated chocolate, nutmeg, and cinnamon/bay leaf (if using); stir well. Then reduce the heat to medium low and allow the chocolate tea to gently simmer, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, cover pot allow the chocolate tea to steep, for another 10 minutes. When ready to serve, strain well, sweeten to taste with condensed milk or sugar and serve while hot.