Eden has gone chocolate crazy this February. We're even holding our own 'Chocolate Jungle' festival with everything from hands-on chocolate making workshops for kids, to learning, tasting, smelling and feeling chocolate in our biomes. In the lead up to the event, I decided to find out more about the fabulous chocolate we sell in our webshop.
I caught up with Tom from our Cornish handmade chocolate suppliers, Nicky Grant, to talk me through their chocolate philosophy. These guys are renowned for their award-winning combinations - Cornish sea salt caramel truffles, wildflower honey and cinnamon, and raspberry truffles.
The first thing that came across was Tom's unwavering passion for fresh chocolate. This means they don’t believe in artificial sweeteners, flavourings or preservatives - shelf extenders as he called them. They don’t overload their truffles and pralines with sugar either, as they don't want that common sickly sweet taste and ruin their subtle flavour blends.
All ingredients in their handmade truffles are made with fresh Cornish cream and real butter. They make their own fillings from scratch, from grating the organic limes for infusions, to sieving raspberries for purees. No shortcuts are taken for these truffles.
But what about the chocolate? Tom proudly explained that they source top-grade single origin chocolate to compliment each filling. Nope, meant nothing to me either.
'Single origin chocolate', he explained, comes from one particular place. Think of it like a bottle of wine. A good bottle comes down to the quality of the soil, the heat of the sun and the variety of grape. Likewise, each country produces different flavour notes in chocolate.
Nicky Grant’s cocoa comes from Venezuela, Tanzania, Madagascar and Peru. Tom matches Mexican chocolate with lime and chilli, as the fruitiness of the chocolate matches well with the zesty spiciness of the filling. He said to think of sweet chilli sauce – the combination just works.
Careful cocoa sourcing, also means that they have a better understanding of the ethical conditions of the plantation, and maintain control of the whole process.
All of these factors go into a box of our handmade chocolate truffles. To try them for yourselves, have a look the selection on our webshop.
To find out more about chocolate, venture into our Chocolate Jungle festival - here at Eden. Hear Tom from Nicky Grant talk about the whole chocolate making process, while you can see, smell, taste and hear everything about chocolate!
Win a hamper full of chilli goodies and a complimentary guided tour around our chocolate and chilli trails here at Eden.
This unique experience takes you from the Americas to Africa on an adventure to discover the original hot chocolate – all within our iconic Biomes.
You’ll be personally shown around the largest rainforest in captivity by one of our experienced guides. In here, you’ll learn how to see, feel, smell, taste and even hear the difference between types of chocolate. In our Mediterranean biome, our guide will fascinate you with our array of chilli, from the mild sweet bell pepper, to the Dorset Naga - measuring a scorching 1.6 million Scoville Heat Units!
Afterwards, you can enjoy free admission around the Eden Project for the rest of the day.
We'll also send you a free chilli lover's hamper - a sustainable wicker hamper containing sweet chilli sauce, fabulous chilli chocolate, chilli seeds and a fiery jelly.
How to enter
To be in with a chance, all you have to do is place any order on our webshop before 14 February 2012 and we'll automatically enter you in the prize draw.
Prize draw terms and conditions
- This voucher is valid for 12 months for two people. Tours will be available on four days of the week and are not available during August. Please see our website or contact our booking line for exact tour guide timings.
- All visits must be booked in advance with a minimum of two weeks notice.
- This is a 90 minute private walking tour - on tours of the rainforest you will experience heat and humidity, if you have concerns regarding any disability or illness you must discuss this with us before booking.
- The first name drawn at random after the closing date will receive the prize as detailed above.
- The prize is non-refundable, non-transferable and subject to availability. No alternative prize will be offered and there is no cash alternative.
- The draw is not open to employees of The Eden Project, their families, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the prize draw.
- All entries must be received by midnight on 14 February 2012. The winner will be notified by email after the closing date.
- By entering this competition you are giving the Eden Project permission to contact you at a future date. You can unsubscribe from this service at any time.
- Prize draw open to all UK residents. Entrants must be over 16 years of age.
Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift idea? Look no further - our team has taken the search out of it for you, and have carefully hand-picked a collection of original Valentine's Day gifts from our webshop, each with an ethical story to tell.
Even if you think Valentine’s Day is overrated, a couple of extra brownie points from indulging in a British bouquet or something fabulous never hurt anyone.
Treasure all your favourite photographs in this beautiful photo album. It's actually made from paper produced in Nepal from the lokta bush. It's particularly environmentally friendly, as the bush quickly re-grows - ready for future harvest. The paper is made by hand, using a skill that goes back a thousand years. The result is soft and fibrous with an attractive texture and it's more durable than conventional paper.
These love bombs are a colourful explosion of forget-me-nots. The quietly flowering forget-me-not has long been used as a symbol of endless love and is a favourite of many. You can make up to 20 love bombs with this packet. You literally fling your home-made seed bombs at any drab looking bit of earth and they'll explode with colour when the conditions are right - no green fingers necessary.
Give English seasonal flowers this Valentine's Day. Ours are grown just up the road here in Cornwall, so have very few flower-miles compared with the majority of Valentine's bouquets produced abroad. These stunning bouquets all come with free delivery. Why not add some local handmade chocolate truffles, or a bottle of award-winning Cornish wine to really treat your partner?
This is the ultimate foodie gift. It's a hazel tree that has been inoculated with British truffle spores. You could store the truffles with rice, allow to infuse with oil, grate a little, or chop into butter to top the best steaks you've ever tasted. It transforms any dish into a culinary delight. The tree will carry on growing truffles for up to 25 years.
This hamper showcases the best produce Cornwall has to offer. From clotted cream fudge to award winning Camel Valley wine, it contains everything you need for the ultimate evening.
Why not… pack plenty of blankets and take the whole hamper to a nice spot to enjoy. If you don’t fancy braving the weather, deck out the car with soft pillows, blankets and cosy knitted socks and drive somewhere beautiful together. Open the boot to feel the fresh air and snuggle down to a memorable Valentine’s evening out – without the shocking bill at the end of the night.
This sustainable wicker hamper is the perfect gift for chocolate lovers. It contains a selection of Montezuma orange and milk chocolate, brazil nuts, a locally handmade chocolate heart, Eden chocolate-chip shortbread and Eden’s own chocolate among other treats.
Everything you need for a pampering session, inside a reusable wicker hamper. Includes a coconut scented candle in its own shell, rosehip moisturiser, lemongrass hand cream, a sweet orange lip balm, lavender soap and a locally made chocolate heart.
Treat your loved one to this wicker hamper full of delights. A bottle of crisp full-bodied white wine, 350ml recycled wine glasses and handmade chocolate truffles all packaged in a sustainable wicker hamper. The chocolates are handmade with love by local chocolatiers and come in a heart-shaped box.
Set the mood with these divine smelling candles. The scents include wild fig and grape, bamboo and olive blossom and rose and geranium – a real delight. They’re made with oil from rapeseed, rather than palm, whose plantations have been identified as one of the biggest threats to rainforests in Asia.
This necklace is made out of recycled wine bottles but look just like the weathered glass swept onto the seashore. Remind your Valentine of happy walks on the beach with this necklace and bracelet set.
In the run-up to our chocolate festival, Chocolate Jungle, in February half-term (11–19 February 2012) we’d like to share some facts with you about the fascinating and surprising story of this tasty treat.
- The Maya people of ancient Mexico used cocoa beans as money: 10 for a rabbit, 100 for a slave.
- The botanical name of cocoa is Theobroma cacao, meaning ‘food of the gods’!
- When the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez arrived in Mexico in 1519, he and his men were hailed as gods and given all the things the Aztecs loved – including chocolate.
- In 1579, after taking a Spanish ship loaded with cocoa beans, English buccaneers set it on fire thinking the beans were sheep dung.
- In 1587, when the British captured a Spanish vessel loaded with cocoa beans, the cargo was destroyed as useless.
- Cocoa is really called 'cacao', but the Victorians couldn’t pronounce it so they renamed it!
- Chocolate was regarded as a drink until the 19th century. The first advert for eating chocolate appeared in Butler’s ‘medicine chest dictionary’ in 1826. Fry’s chocolate lozenges were described as ‘a pleasant and nutritious substitute for food in travelling or when unusual fasting is caused by irregular periods of eating’.
- Many of the people who grow cocoa have never tasted chocolate.
- Individuals in the UK, on average, consume around 10kg of chocolate every year.
- Cocoa butter is a useful ingredient in moisturisers and face creams because it melts at skin temperature.
More facts about chocolate
Find out more by flicking through our potted, illustrated history of chocolate.
If you live in Cornwall or Devon, make the most of visits to Eden throughout the year with a one-year Locals’ Annual Pass for just £5, or two years for £10.
We’re running this special offer for locals until Friday 10 February 2012. Don't worry, if you can’t visit straight away but are keen to benefit from the Annual Pass deal, you can buy online now and then activate the one- or two-year pass here at Eden at any time until 31 October 2012.
In case you need any more persuading, we’ve put together 52 things to do at Eden throughout the seasons. That’s one for every week of the year.
- Trek through the largest rainforest in captivity, complete with steamy jungle and waterfall.
- Watch chefs baking fresh bread in the Bakery.
- Enjoy beautiful birdsong from the robins that visit the Mediterranean Biome.
- Take a spin our glacial ice rink, perfect for everyone from toddlers to pros.
- Find your way to the heart of our ancient Labyrinth in the Myth and Folklore garden.
- Enjoy al fresco style eating in our Mediterranean Biome.
- Check out our cola tree, whose seeds traditionally went into cola drinks.
- See what happens in a world without plants, in the hilarious mechanical puppet show 'Plant Takeaway'.
- Explore the willow tunnels, one of our shortcuts for little ones.
- Feel what Eden looks like, by exploring our tactile map.
- Hear a tale or two from one of Eden's mesmerising storytellers.
- See the 'chewing gum tree'.
- Try freshly made food – from savoury twirls to pizza to warming stew.
- Enjoy a traditional Cornish cream tea in one of our cafes.
- Marvel at the smelly Corpse Flower, which blooms for just a couple of days.
- Get new ideas for your veg plot from our Global Gardeners international allotment.
- Play on the wooden tractor, perfect for toddlers.
- Lose yourself in the bamboo maze, a favourite with kids.
- Look for the hidden Eve sculpture, deep in our Wild Cornwall garden.
- Marvel at our magnificent dahlia displays, out in June.
- Keep your eyes peeled for tree frogs in the Rainforest Biome.
- See bananas growing in real life.
- Spot as many things as you can in the towering robot made of waste.
- Hop on our very own Land Train, pulled by a tractor.
- Create a tune on the sound sculpture, our outdoor instrument that's a favourite with kids.
- Challenge yourself on Eden's outdoor bouldering wall.
- Enjoy the largest slice of cake you'll have ever seen, our chef's Victoria sponge.
- Catch a glimpse of cashew nuts, used for everything from cooking to brake pads.
- Get a unique view of the sky from inside the cloud chamber.
- Clamber on our huge wooden pirate ship, set amidst the gardens.
- Feel the refreshing spray from our crashing tropical waterfall.
- Master the nets, bars and poles of our Nest climbing frame.
- Spot the full-size horse made of driftwood.
- See a real Malaysian jungle hut, complete with veg plot and paddy field.
- Check out the kapok tree that's so tall it's nearly touching the top of the Biome
- Catch a glimpse of our shiney solar panels on the roof of the Core.
- Refresh yourself with a glass of homemade lemonade in our Bakery.
- Watch our gardeners prune huge trees from a helium balloon.
- Test your sense of smell in our perfume exhibit.
- Seek out the Seed, the giant granite sculpture set inside a tranquil chamber.
- Spot the brightly coloured South American sugar truck.
- Get a bird's eye view of the treetops from the Rainforest Lookout.
- See if you can spot the roul roul partridges in the Rainforest Biome.
- Try out our award-winning, rain-harvesting toilets.
- Touch a cork tree, used in wine bottles the world over.
- Have a taste of our fairly traded baobab smoothies as you explore the rainforest.
- Try your hand at cracking nuts using our huge Heath Robinson-esque machine in the Core.
- Come and see how pineapples actually grow on the ground!
- Dig in to our spice drawers, an enormous fragrant chest of drawers in the middle of the rainforest.
- Warm yourself with a glass of mulled wine in the run-up to Christmas.
- Take part in our magical lantern parade during our late-night winter festival.
- Find beautiful, ethical and educational gifts in our lovely shop.
Whether it's for sustenance, medicine, fragrance or decoration, the power of plants have been celebrated as far back as records go. In fact, plants are so paramount in affecting the way we live, it's not surprising that we've attached symbolic meanings tothem.
Plants have influenced art, superstition, traditions and culture for centuries. Victorians particularly used flower meanings (floriography) to communicate messages between lovers that might be difficult to say aloud. They would give each other ‘tussie mussies’ – a bouquet made up with carefully selected aromatic flowers, each with their own crypric meaning. These would be wrapped in a lace doily and tied with satin.
It became highly fashionable to exchange tussie mussies on Valentine’s day, as only very refined people understood floriography. Educated, romantic gentleman would choose flowers with a cryptic meaning. Likewise, it was considered extremely cultured for a lady to study all aspects of flowers, which included growing, pressing, arranging, drawing and painting.
This Valentine's Day, our retail team have hand picked beautiful plants that traditionally hold a romantic message.
Roses are associated with passion and romance in Greek mythology. Apparently, the gods worked together to create the very first divine rose. Chloris, the goddess of flowers, gave life to a nymph. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, gave beauty, and Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy, presented his nectar to give the sweetest scent. The Three Graces then gave their charm, beauty and joy.
This beautiful red flower has long been used as a symbol of love and eternity. It influenced the Russian composer Gliere to write a ballet called ‘The Red Poppy,’ in which a red poppy passed between lovers as a sign of affection and freedom.
Jasmine is highly regarded for its distinctive floral aroma. It’s known as ‘queen of flowers’ in India, where it symbolises love and temptation. According to Indian mythology, Kama, the god of love and lust, attached jasmine flowers to his arrows to make his victims fall in love.
The symmetrical perfection and enduring qualities of camellia flowers have been used for centuries to represent devotion between lovers. According to ancient Chinese mythology, the petals symbolise a lady’s spirit, whereas the bud is seen as the trustworthy male protector in her life.
The ancient Greeks say that when the goddess of love, Aphrodite, was born, she hid behind a myrtle bush to cover her nudity. Since then, myrtle has been the symbol of purity and love, protection and beauty. Greek brides still bathe in water perfumed with myrtle leaves, and may opt to wear a myrtle wreath.
A very happy looking flower, sunflowers represent loyalty and adoration as they faithfully turn their large heads to follow the sun. The bright yellow petals stretch out like rays of sunshine and evoke feelings of warmth and longevity.
Exciting news – The Queen has sent a personal message of support for organisers of Big Lunch street parties and neighbourhood get-togethers taking place as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations on 3 June.
Since Eden Project kick-started the annual Big Lunch initiative in 2009, millions of people have held events, ranging from street parties and fetes to community picnics with neighbours. This year, people in all 54 Commonwealth countries are being encouraged to hold their own Big Jubilee Lunch events as part of the celebrations.
A copy of The Queen’s message will be included in every Big Jubilee Lunch starter pack, along with invitation templates, posters, a wall planner, recipes, stickers and seeds.
The full text reads:
I am delighted that the organisers of The Big Lunch are helping people from across the United Kingdom and further afield to hold Big Jubilee Lunches as part of the celebrations to mark my Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
I send my very best wishes to you and all of those who will be present for what I hope will be a most memorable and enjoyable event.
Andrew Hesford, who is planning a Big Jubilee Lunch in Liverpool, said: ‘It is fantastic to have this special message of support from The Queen. Her words are an enormous boost for every community taking part in a Big Lunch this year – including mine.’
Eden’s Peter Stewart commented: ‘We are enormously grateful to The Queen for her message of support. I’m sure everyone who is taking part in The Big Jubilee Lunch will want to join me in thanking her for her best wishes for a memorable and enjoyable event.
Some 10 million people came out in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee so we hope a large number of people will take part in The Big Lunch for the first time in 2012 – joining the millions of us that have been doing it for the last three years.’
To find out how to join in the Queen Diamond’s Jubilee celebrations by throwing a Big Lunch on Sunday 3 June, take a look at Eden’s Big Lunch website. You can order your free Jubilee Big Lunch pack there too.
As we start a busy new term here at Eden we’re looking forward to sharing three brand spanking new educational workshops with the kids on our school trips. We've designed them to get students trying out new things, from becoming canopy scientists to learning how to survive in the rainforest to running a sustainable enterprise.
Canopy Club is a great one for students aged 9 – 11, as the two-hour workshops sees them take on the role of canopy scientists in our Rainforest Biome. They get to carry out an investigation, collecting evidence about leaf sizes, shapes and colours, and then explain their findings. It’s a brilliant way to introduce primary school kids to scientific ideas in a really unusual ‘living classroom’.
Then there’s Rainforest Uncovered, which challenges students to think how they could survive in the rainforest with no equipment, gadgets or gizmos from the real world. The 9 – 11- year-olds draw on knowledge from Papua’s Kombai tribes to become experts at jungle life. They learn how the Kombai do things like use poisonous tree roots to catch fish, and how the rainforest can actually provide them with food, shelter and healthcare.
For older students, aged 13-16, we’ve just launched Sustainable Attainable, which introduces them to sustainable business practices. We share Eden’s own learning about how we manage the visitor attraction for the benefit of people and the planet as well as for profit. Students learn about the challenges and decisions involved in running an enterprise, and they come away from the workshop with ideas for their own schools and lives.
Our educational workshops cost from just £3.80 per pupil. Find out about all of them, from Foundation level right through to tertiary visits, on our School visits webpage.
Eden wouldn’t be the success it is without the invaluable support of our friends, which is whywe run special offers from time to time. On the following dates, we're offering free entry to the specified groups:
- Friday 20, Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 January 2012: volunteers and charity workers
- Friday 27, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January 2012: Scouts, Guides, Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade members.
- Friday 3, Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 February 2012: NHS employees and members of the Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance service, Coastguard and RNLI.
How to get free entry
Simply bring proof of employment or membership, eg a payslip or ID badge. Please make it easy for us and remember to bring this with you. We look forward to seeing you!
We love our tea in Britain. It’s our escape, a comfort, it’s stimulation and inspiration. Tea wraps its warm arms around you and carries on hugging you long after you take your last sip. William Gladstone once said, ‘If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.’
It’s been described as liquid wisdom, and as Shayne House, co-founder of the Tea Appreciation Society says, ‘it forces you to take time out.’ Couldn’t agree more, Shayne.
We especially like this brand of tea because it ticks all the boxes for us as an ethical product. It’s produced down the road from us, it’s fairly traded, not to mention mouth wateringly delicious.
Bear in mind that when you buy loose leaves, you get more of a benefit than with teabags. The whole leaves naturally hold more oils, which result in more flavour and goodness. Teabags contain ‘tea dust’ – a lower grade version of tea.
There are so many benefits of tea, and there’s a different type for every occasion. Next time you next stick your kettle on, use this handy guide to tea and choose a brew to pick the one that suits your mood.
Refreshing fennel has a sweet anise taste and is delicious both hot and cold. In India, the seeds are chewed after a meal to freshen the breath and soothe the digestive tract. Being especially high in soothing oils, it’s ideal after a large meal. Those lovely oils also give this tea a fuller flavour. Add a teaspoon of this loose leaf fennel tea to the pan after you’ve cooked fish, a glug of white wine and a little cream and you’ll have a delicious sauce.
Ask a medical herbalist which tea they would take if they were to be stranded on a desert island (of course there would be a kettle and a mug there) and many would go straight for nettle. Considered the healthiest tea of all, nettle is full of nutrients including vitamin C, zinc, iron and silica. Aside from being an all-round blood tonic, its excellent anti-histamine properties make it ideal for hay-fever sufferers.
This plant has a long traditional use for soothing nerves and calming the mind. It is often taken as an infusion to alleviate anxiety and to encourage a better quality sleep. As it contains anti-inflammatory properties, try ringing your flannel out in a chamomile infusion and leaving it on your face for a while. It’s perfect for pepping up skin and relieving tired eyes.
This wonderful plant has been used for decades for keeping colds and flu at bay. North American Indians first used it for modulating the immune system, which means that when your body is under attack and needs extra defences, your immune system steps up a gear. It’s also widely used for wound-healing, so try sipping – and even gargling – echinacea tea if you have mouth ulcers.
This tea comes from the only commercially grown manuka bushes outside of New Zealand. These bushes are celebrated for their antibacterial properties used both internally and externally and are even used by nurses to dress wounds. The honey made from the manuka bush is often used in cough remedies, for being naturally antiseptic, yet lubricating. Brew yourself a cup of manuka tea next time you need to soothe a sore throat.