Note: Originally posted Saturday, December 8, 2012
Texture: wide variety of textures, black leaves, pieces, and seed pods
Scent: spicy, sweet fragrance
Steeped: about 4 minutes in mesh ball
Appearance: rich brown
Taste: subtle spiciness, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves
Additions: sugar recommended, milk is an option but then you might want to make the tea stronger.
The last time I reviewed a chai (properly masala chai), it was so-called herbal chai. Since chai is one of my favorites, it should be no surprise that I ordered more of it. However, I didn’t notice in the shop that this one is different than any I’ve had before. Examining the leaves, I noticed lots of green seed pods, and the scent is much different than before. This is not as strong as the herbal chai but it has a sweeter aroma and a different blend of spices.
As I sat down to write this review, identifying the scents and tastes, the word cardamom popped into my mind, and indeed a quick search revealed the green seed pods to be cardamom. That is a spice I haven’t encountered very often, certainly not as pods, but apparently it is used in traditional chai. I also detected a lesser influence of cinnamon and cloves. The taste is similar to certain “instant” chai teas I’ve had (Pacific Chai being one of them) but there is an excellent aftertaste which might be the cardamom.
I still find the herbal chai more enjoyable, but that’s mostly because I love spicy food and drink, especially when sweetened. This chai just isn’t as strong of a flavor, but it makes for a nice change. Next time I may try steeping it a bit longer, but it’s always a tradeoff between the strength and bitterness of tea.