The Subject: Indian Spiced Chai Black Tea from The English Tea Store.
Water temperature: 212° F
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Tea type: Black
Scents, flavorings, etc.: Coriander, cardamom, ginger, cloves
Aroma, dry: Like walking into an Indian spice store
Aroma in the cup, plain: N/A
Taste, plain: N/A
Aroma in the cup, enhanced: Curry tea
Taste, enhanced: Spicy, mild, smooth
2nd Infusion: Equal in strength, taste, and aroma to first
When first opening the plastic, resealable pouch in which this tea comes, hubby and I were both enthralled by its strong aroma — like stepping inside a store selling spices from India. If you’ve ever been inside such a store, you’ll know what I mean. As someone who makes curry in the authentic manner (taught by exchange students from India at the university I attended), my senses were filled with pure delight. This tea has the wonderful fragrances of all the spices I use in curry. It was love at first whiff!
Chai, in the traditional method of preparation, has the tea leaves being boiled in milk, not water. (This was my first experience with chai, enjoyed in an Indian restaurant.) However, the Little Yellow Teapot thought it was better to boil water and steep the tea in it, then add milk to the resulting tea “liquor.” He’s a bit temperamental, so we followed his plan. (Have you ever tried arguing with a teapot, especially a little yellow one?)
The taste of the tea “liquor,” after 5 minutes of infusing and then pouring into a cup with milk and sweetener (a definite “must”), fulfilled the promise made by that first aromatic inhalation. Hubby suddenly got a craving for Indian food when he smelled the first cupful. He definitely considers this a year-round tea, as do I, just as we enjoy curry and other Indian foods year round and since we could drink this tea both hot and chilled.
Anyone trying this tea and expecting Starbuck’s Chai Latte, with its cinnamony, pumpkinish, sort-of-tea-like-flavor (which I like since it’s sort of like a slice of pumpkin pie that’s been pureed in a blender and added to hot milk), will be in for a surprise. This tea is quite different. Spices like coriander, cardamom, and cloves dominate. The cardamom taste lingers long after you’ve taken your last swallow, the only downside to this tea. I had to have a bit of dark, semi-sweet chocolate to take that taste away — ooh! maybe that’s an upside!
A word of caution: Unless you’re doing a second infusion, once the tea has fully steeped, pour it through a strainer into another teapot (or if you used an infuser basket or teaball infuser, remove this from the teapot). This will avoid over steeping, which would very likely result in an overly strong taste that can be quite bitter.
This tea gets half a teapot just for being chai (which I love) and another half for being loose tea, not bagged or some kind of syrup added to hot milk. Hubby and I gave it another three teapots for the sensory delight (taste and aroma) it imparted. I had to deduct a half teapot because of the lingering cardamom taste, which is a bit overwhelming.
Read more great tea reviews at the Little Yellow Teapot’s blog!