I used to buy the little sample boxes of New Tree Chocolate at the Whole Foods flagship in Austin, Texas when I lived there. It was a nice little treat and you know how I love packaging! Oddly enough, I could never decide whether I really liked them or not. Well, since I moved back to Chicago I haven’t been able to find New Tree anywhere. For my birthday, my brother bought me two New Tree chocolate bars. You might remember me writing about them. They were the Thyme and the Piment (pepper) Alpha Chocolate Bars. Well, I’m honest. I didn’t care for them in any way. The people at New Tree read the post about their chocolate and wanted me to give it another go. As I always say, you should try things twice just to make sure. Well, they sent me two of their chocolate lines to sample. How excited was I?
Let me tell you a bit about New Tree chocolate first. In 2001, a biochemical engineer wanted to bring what nature had to offer in the way of flavor and health benefits to chocolate. The result? New Tree – Natural Born Chocolate. Their goal? To make “chocolates that draw their originality from the very heart of nature, combining gastronomy, innovation and well-being.” New Tree’s goal was met and within a matter of a few years, they were winning awards for their chocolate bars throughout the world.
Since I received so many chocolate bars from them, I’m going to talk about more of each line as a whole. I’m a big fan of basic, good quality chocolate. Not to say that it shouldn’t be or can’t be added to and enhanced. It can, but it has to be subtle or it takes over the chocolate. I’m looking for pure chocolate and pure ingredients. New Tree sent me two dark chocolate bars. One is called Eternity that is Blackcurrant and the other Pleasure which is simply dark chocolate. I loved, loved, loved the Blackcurrant. The added flavors are a bit too strong with New Tree and I’ll talk about that in a minute. There was no doubt as to what I was eating, it was black currant flavored chocolate and it was yummy. The bar was beautiful, shiny and purplish-brown color. The purple is not from the blackcurrant, but it is from the color of the cocoa beans. The Blackcurrant bar also has added grape seed extract for more antioxidant properties than offered by this 73% chocolate bar. The Pleasure dark chocolate bar was fantastic. I wouldn’t change a thing about the bar. This chocolate bar had a fantastic sheen, great color, strong snap and smelled like a bouquet of flowers and fruit. It was my favorite of the bunch.
For the New Tree milk chocolate, I received Cocoon which was Apricot and Tranquility which was Lavender. I liked the Apricot. They Lavender was too overwhelming. I couldn’t eat it. Lavender should be used subtlety in chocolate. When all you smell and taste in a chocolate bar is lavender, I have to put it down.
Here’s what I don’t care for about New Tree. I love the concept, love the packaging, but I think a point comes where chocolate isn’t chocolate anymore and it becomes a confection or an energy bar. For a chocolate confection or energy bar, I think New Tree is top notch, but I want to be able to smell my chocolate, not what has been added to it. I want to taste my chocolate, not have it be an after thought. With the Blackcurrant chocolate bar, you have sulfites from the natural grape extract which I question. You can buy grape extract with no sulfites. The ingredients also list “other natural flavor” which I told you to watch out for before. The Apricot also added natural soy germ extract and other natural flavorings. The Lavender, lime blossom extract.
New Tree has also created a line of chocolate bars that boasts three times the fiber, 30% less sugar and a good source of Omega-3s from the addition of flax seeds. I shared these with a few tasting buddies, because I like to make sure I’m on the mark. We reviewed the Belgian Biscuit 65%, Dark 65%, Dark 65% Superfruit. We really liked all of these bars. They didn’t bring to mind a chocolate bar though, we all thought they were more of an energy bar with all of the additions. Which is fine. The amount of cranberries, goji berries, pomegranate, grape and papaya in the Superfruit was staggering in a good way. There was not doubt a lot of fruit in it. Problem? If you’re making a healthy chocolate bar, why are you using 65% chocolate? Every study that has been done says that you have to have at least 70% cocoa for health benefits. The basic part of the dark chocolate is healthy wasn’t met.
The other bars we reviewed were tasty, but we ran into some huge issues. Seems the 31-51% bars all caused stomach cramping and diarrhea in all of us. New Tree said it wasn’t their bars. Considering we tried them on two separate occasions, I’m pretty sure they were the cause. The problem? They add inulin, oligofructose and dextrin to the bars. If you have any stomach, ulcer, or digestive issues, my research shows it is strongly recommended that you don’t consume these substances because it causes the exact symptoms we had, which we all suffer from one of the three.
Overall review. I really respect New Tree for what they are trying to do. I understand they have won awards and I think they are deserved as they are pioneers in a newly emerging market in the chocolate world. For me? Not so much. I like their plain dark chocolate bar. I like the Blackcurrant and the Apricot, although I really couldn’t appreciate the chocolate because there was so much flavor added to the chocolat bar. For New Tree’s suped-up 3x more fiber, 30% less sugar and Omega-3 line, I loved them all as a chocolate confection or energy bar. In my opinion, they have way too much going on to be considered chocolate. What would I buy again? The Dark Chocolate, the suped-up Superfruit and the Dark 65%. Overall, not a fan. You decide and if you feel any differently, let me know and I’ll try again.