Okay. I’m not sure where to start with this, because in many way this was a very not me thing to buy and in other ways it was a very me thing to buy and I didn’t even get it entirely on purpose in the first place.
Ways in which it’s Not-Me:
1. It’s a chai. I’ve never been able to really get into chais although I’ve tried now and then. It’s the spice mix. There’s just generally too much going on in chais. My tongue gets a little overwhelmed by it and just seems to start looking for the nearest exit. Which is weird because I’m not generally against spices in cooking or baking so long as it’s not something burning hot.
2. It almost always involves ginger and I’m just not very keen on ginger. Aforementioned burning hotness, you see. It’s not something that appeals to me at all. I’ve never been able to understand how some people can enjoy a meal that is physically painful to eat. Ginger gives me that same sort of burning sensation, and pain =/= pleasure for me. Pain is pain and pain is unpleasant and to be avoided whenever possible and that’s the end of it.
3. It’s dust in a bag. This should be self explanatory, really.
4. Proper chai involves milk. I can drink milked tea, but I much prefer not to. I think this is also part of the reason I’ve been unable to really get into chais.
Ways in which it’s Quite-Me:
1. Vanilla. I am, as you know, extremely attracted to any tea which has vanilla in it. Actually in recent years this is not just tea, it’s anything that has vanilla in it. Having found the Perfect Vanilla Black, I am now searching for the recipe for the Perfect Vanilla Biscuit. (I have some experimental ideas to try in that regard, but as this is not Biscuitster.com, I’ll move on)
2. Honey. I am also, probably less well known, very attracted to something with honey in it. I really would like to ‘meet’ an excellent honey flavoured tea, rather than just a tea that tastes like someone put honey in it, which has been my experience with honey flavouring so far. Because it’s not the same thing. But I find the idea of the honey flavoured tea very appealing indeed.
Reason why I didn’t buy this on purpose:
When it comes to the just-before-bed-cup, Husband and I have developed a habit of something herbal, taken in bed while reading. He favours chamomile because he feels like he sleeps better afterwards. I’m not keen on that, so I’m shopping around. I have plenty of rooibos with yummy flavours, but the thing is at that point of the day the last thing I want to do is faff about with teapots and loose leaf. Unfortunately the kinds of rooibos flavourings that I enjoy don’t seem to be readily available in bagged form. So I’ve found myself bag-hunting. Finished a box from Yogi tea and didn’t feel like I wanted to continue with that one, so I looked for another kind to try. As I was looking my eye fell on this box. And Quite-Me reasons trumped Not-Me reasons, in spite of the fact that I was looking for something herbal in the first place. So therefore it was not on purpose and not my fault, and I did also get some bags of a herbal blend to try as well (after having agonised for a bit about the bleeding inclusion of bleeding hibiscus in nearly bleeding everything that looked remotely interesting).
Not on purpose. Not my fault.
So I’ve been experimenting with it a bit. First I tried it with milk, which I had warmed (nuked) a bit first. I followed the suggestion on the box with 1/4 warm milk and 3/4 water. The box also suggested sweetening it to taste with sugar. As my ‘to taste’ with tea is entirely without sugar in a sort of ew-sugar-tea-blech! way, I figured I had already sort of done this by leaving sweetening out. It didn’t say anything about temperature but as it contains both black and white, I took my cue from the white.
It was… pleasant enough, although quite ginger-y. There were the other spices in the flavour as well, but in a sort of generic spice blend flavour where I couldn’t have picked them out from each other at all. It was just… spice. And ginger. Ginger I can pick out, but that’s because I’m so wary of it.
I could not, however, taste any tea at all, be it black or white both of which are supposed to be in here. I also couldn’t find anything remotely resembling vanilla or the slightest trace of honey.
It felt very generic beginner-chai-y and quite thin tasting. With ginger. Which, as ginger does, got stronger and stronger towards the end of the cup.
Hm. Not very succesful.
I reckoned maybe the milk was, while softening up the spices, covering the other flavours. This is why I don’t much understand the whole milk in tea concept. I find it deadens the taste of the tea and just turns into warm milk with something in it. Much like this particular cup did. So I tried a second cup with a fresh bag and without the milk.
I was a little concerned about the ginger here, because I thought without the milk to tame it, it might get out of hand completely. It was already plenty wild for me before after all.
I can actually smell something in it now. Something spicy (duh) but with a hint of sweetness in there, telling me that even if I can’t find the honey and the vanilla in the flavour they are in there somewhere.
I steeped the bag for a really long time, because the brew above had been so thin that I’d ended up just dumping the bag back in the cup and keeping it there while drinking. And it was still quite thin. It looks like a jolly big teabag but I’m wondering now how much actual tea is actually in there. It can’t be very much. Or it must be really old.
Peculiarly the ginger was much more in the background now, which was a pleasant surprise. Not at all what I had counted on. The other spices were still present as well and still just a generic could be anything really sort of spice blend.
I felt like I could pick up a hint of vanilla and honey now though, but not nearly as much as I would have liked at all.
All in all not as good as hoped but I’m pretty certain I can drink this box up eventually. I’ve definitely learned not to follow the suggestion on the box though, because that just didn’t work at all.
Perhaps I should try another go-round of both these versions while making it like a black with boiling water and like a flavoured black with not quite boiling water. So I tried boiling water, no milk.
It was less thin at this point, but still the same generic spice throughout most of the flavour. This time though I actually felt like I was drinking tea as opposed to spiced water, so that was a plus.
Honey and vanilla, though? Not so much. I seem to have misplaced them. I’m sure I had them just before!