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Bà Ria
Đắk Lắk
Tiền Giang
Dark Milk
Milk Chocolate
Coconut Milk

by T. Brothers
Info Details
Country Vietnam   
Type Dark   (+ Semi-Dark; + Dark-Milk; + Milk Chocolate)
Strain Hybrid   (T Clonal Series)
Source Vietnam   
Flavor Spices & Herbs   (x Earthen; occasional Fruits / Flowers)
Style Rustic      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Acidity
Bitterness
Roast
Intensity
Complexity
Structure
Length
Impact
Dear dear Elizabeth Wurtzel. Prozac nationalist -- the primer for a pain-free opiod country. Exhibitionist. Self-proclaimed “bitch”. Do-me feminist. A queen of quip in the tradition of Dorothy Parker. Multiple 1-liners (both coke & quotes). And annoyances. Seeker of the (s)Limelight – whether slipping the velvet rope at the Chelsea-Manhattan club or larger media attention. Diagnosed with Stage-IV, BRCA-implicated, metastatic breast tumor. Flipped the middle finger at cancer.

The parallel to the here & now of this: chocolate, a roughly $125Billion industry, puts the cheer on everything despite its unequal parts misery (in its production) & pleasure (in its consumption). In many guises spanning serious craft specialty to mass-market confectionary candy (ok, mostly the latter).

It blurs, to repurpose one of Wurtzel’s lines, the truly desperate & the merely decadent. Classic OCD / manic-schizo, meaning… well, maybe nothing. Simply sounds good. Entertainment. Like “if you take care of the luxuries, the necessities will take care of themselves”! Really? (Upon asking a salesclerk how much a deluxe item costs & told ‘if you have to ask, you cannot afford it’, the ever-shrewd Madonna shot back ‘if you don’t ask, you won’t be able to someday’. [Apparently she suffers from billionaire-envy.]) More, Now, Again (to counterbalance Eat, Pray, Love?). The Depressed Person’s omnineediness (thank you Dave Foster Wallace).

Next: surthrivalship, Việtnamese style. Of that nation’s American War. Whose countryside defoliated, napalmed, radiated like cancer, “cured” by chemo-dripping B-52s. Today the excipient of freakish heirloom-level cacáo (in the innovative disruptive sense [that can be tasted], especially the Tiền Giang variety [see below]).

Helluva chocolate. Be the party. Have fun.

R.I.P. Liz.
Appearance   3.9 / 5
Color: SEEDS
Sample Lot A: pewter rouge
Sample Lot B: a more russet blush to 'em

BARS
Bà Ria (both 100% & 70%): gorgeous magenta
Đắk Lắk 100%: dark russet; 70%: golden russet-brown
Tiền Giang (both 100% & 70%): ruby violet
Dark-Milk: silverback brown
Milk Chocolate: polychrome revolving around sienna
Coconut-Milk Chocolate: crimson-gold
Surface: SEEDS
Sample Lot A: mid-sized semi-flats
Sample Lot B: a bit rounder / larger

BARS: ranges from solid to perfect with varying brush strokes (soft to vigorous)
Temper: SEEDS: eazy peel

BARS: serene glow
Snap: SEEDS: n/a

BARS: anything but quiet
Aroma   9.1 / 10
SEEDS
Central Highlands; Đắk Lắk Province
Sample Lot A: heavy acetic acid / vinegar of film developer strength cut by – yes, somehow this screen cut – by an exotic citrus scent (guava x pineapple) followed on with sandalwood chips & cologne
Sample Lot B: pungent, intense, even recoiling; streaming acidity of head clearing strength, sparkling off a Tropicana mix with guava, mango & banana

BARS
Bà Ria 100% (Vũng Tàu Province)
sweetly black-on-black (licorice over fig) + a wondrous cocoa butter infused with prune (almost redolent of Chuao’s famed “blueberry butter”)

Bà Ria 70%
oh, such a delicate massage on the nose… doubly so for otherwise strong tags like a little sweaty, wood shavings, leather & also tea + chanterelle; beautiful

Đắk Lắk 100% (Central Highlands; Đắk Lắk Province)
strangely similar to Bà Ria (despite being from vastly different regions) but more abiding cocoa

Đắk Lắk 70%
gamey / glandular centered by a sourpuss point -> straightens up clarified chocolate in cocoa butter -> tea-bacco -> gypsum

Tiền Giang 100% (Miền Tây region)
tell-tale Giang... opium & oud (poppy & resin, folks)

Tiền Giang 70%
oh, that scent… that singular only-from-Việt Nam scent… specifically only from Tiền Giang; fragrant / perfumed / chocolate cologne

Dark-Milk (54% cacáo-content)
classic DM -- tannic milk -> sheds black caramel

Milk Chocolate (46% cacáo-content)
whereas in the 54% Dark-Milk (above) the cocoa presses its imprint on milk, this just the opposite, switches roles with the cow influencing cacáo… call it cocoa-lactose

Coconut-Milk Chocolate
fresh-scooped coconut meat, full-on, even a li’l coconut water too -> lemon drop
Mouthfeel   11.4 / 15
Texture: crinkly
Melt: recombinant shards
Flavor   40.8 / 50
SEEDS
Sample Lot A: confirms Aroma; beautiful citric tags along the mandarin – clementine – orange continuum; well-fermented if a bit moist / under-dried but no noticeable mold / rot
Sample Lot B: quenching fruit juice tags; lively

T. Brothers take a direct role in the agronomy of this particular Đắk Lắk cacáo located at Ea Nuôi, Buôn Đôn district. A serious cacáo grove of roughly 40 acres boasting a density of over 500 trees per, comprising a wide cross mix of genotypes locally named TD Clonal Series (specifically 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 + 64). This represents Bud-to-Bud™, the T. Brothers as vertically-integrated ombudsman from cacáo flower bud to human taste buds.

BARS
Bà Ria 100%
butterful -> tracks the aromatics until a coffee berry comes on -> solid bitter soil (good), then coal (tastes better than it sounds) -> black mushroom

Bà Ria 70%
black wafer thanks to licorice & squid ink -> add a dash of valerian & star anise in the mix -> latex & tar

A Bà Ria-sourced bar, 1st introduced to the int’l marketplace by Marou back in 2012. This like that shows wax, a probable ingrown trait.

Đắk Lắk 100%
very palatable woods ear mushroom in top soil (medium bitter) -> black rice

Đắk Lắk 70%
wax opening -> dark cocoa -> black tea -> flirting fruit spot (langsat)

Đắk Lắk cocoa tends toward big straight chocolate-chocolate. And so here if a bit obscurely directed.

Tiền Giang 100%
tame Tiền & then the exotic Indochine spices show up in black truffle paté!!! (WOW)

Tiền Giang 70%
dry-fruited chocolate bang (apricot-cocoa – fab) -> grinds into the substrates found in this offspring’s 100% parent (above) -> closes off with a wink toward Bà Ria

A bit off-script for this regional cacáo which oft dominates with herbal-spice essences rather than here in fruit.

Dark-Milk
dark... very dark... milk as tar / rubber / bitter black sap dark

A confabulation of woes from the New Zealand-sourced milk to the cocoa (compounded by a lack of vanilla when needed). Either a constant peak roasting temperature &/or sub-standard drying (side of the road?) lays down the tire tracks.

Milk Chocolate
a dirty dairy caramel but with a terrific hazelnut close

Coconut-Milk Chocolate
coconut over a gruff chocolate -> burnt butterscotch -> lemon-pine

The integration of this, as well as all T. Brothers milk choc bars, never mesh, always pulling & tugging at the seams.
Quality   14 / 20
Opened in 2017 & 3 years on the T. Brothers run a real albeit small business (less than 50 tons). Exporting cocoa beans, cocoa powder & chocolate, the latter processed with Viet OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing). Stocked in hundreds of retail spots.

Some parameters... A roast contoured at 121º / 250ºF to 130ºC / 266ºF for 22 minutes which in certain bars of this collection over-fires the beans coupled in some to issues with drying. No burn marks per se; just a tire tread or two (+ that conspicuous milk powder). Grinding then takes it onward... 4 to 5 days monitored for texture (18 micron particle size) more so than taste.

Plus tons of pride at work.

T. Bros science.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter (for Milk Chocolates add milk powder; for Coconut-Milk Chocolate add coconut powder)

Reviewed March 16, 2020

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