Stash Holiday ChaiName: Holiday Chai

Brand: Stash Tea

Type: Black tea, flavored

Form: Paper tea bags, individually wrapped.

Review: Another holiday, another chai. Since the stuff got popular back in the nineties, it seems like every tea company has a full line of chais in its range and issues additional versions during winter holiday time.

I don’t blame them, of course, as these spicy drinks are both festive and warming. Stash offers a great selection of chai all year, but this holiday chai, beautifully packaged, is a nifty treat: Black tea, packed in a teabag, along with the traditional chai spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger and some rum and gingerbread flavoring thrown in for some extra kick.

While I prefer a traditional chai made from loose leaf tea and whole spices, this version isn’t bad for those who don’t want to bother with preparing chai the old fashioned way. Tea purists may blanch, but I really rather like the rum flavor, which provides an interesting finish.

Incidentally, this is a decidedly clove-y chai: your mouth goes slightly numb after drinking it. (Clove oil is a traditional remedy for toothache as it numbs the nerves to give the sufferer relief. Many people still swear by it even today.)

Recommendation: In the season of chai, I suppose you can’t have too many varieties. This one, in its little foil packet, is certainly convenient, and I like the addition of rum/gingerbread flavoring.

Preparation Tips: 3.5 minutes is the sweet spot for brewing this blend. Any less and the flavors don’t develop, any more and you get serious chai overkill. It has a creamy quality of its own, so it doesn’t need milk, though I suppose adding it wouldn’t do any harm. Stay away from the sugar if you can: It’s sweet enough, though I suppose a bit of honey wouldn’t hurt.

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