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43

This morning, I still have a cold with a highly stuffed nose and reduced smelling and tasting abilities.
I decided then it was the perfect day to try the Chai I got from Gryphon’s Treasure box, and whose spice laden smell through the plastic bag was never enticing to me, when I had my full capacity.
I know it’s supposed to be drunk with a cloud of milk, but I can’t do that, as just the smell of milk is enough to unsettle my stomach.
The spice taste is really strong, there’s definitely aniseed, cumin, cardamom, something that remind me of Cayenne pepper, a strong aftertaste of clove. It really smells like a spice market in Aceh and that’s quite amazing. However, all those spices tend to overwhelm me, but not in a very good sense.
Under all those perfumes, I cannot identify anything that remind me of tea and I am wondering whether the tea base is strong enough – what I’ve noticed regularly with Gryphon is that they were strong advocates of “less is more”, but sometimes this quest for subtlety goes to far and translates into a tasteless brew.
Chai is also supposed to be drunk with sugar. After my first small cup “nature” to get the most of the flavors, I tried one with honey, thinking it would be interesting to see the flavors’ mixing. My honey is rather strong and that was not a good idea; the honey did not manage to cover the spices just added something else to a pot already overflowing.
I finally decided to make it simple with raw sugar; it’s definitely required. With sugar added in the brew, the spices flavor blend together and seem like subdued in comparison with the plain and too rough brew.
It’s like trying to preparing a dish that requires long slow cooking (like Boeuf Bourguignon or Osso Bucco for instance) in a hurry and eating it before the ingredients have had the time to blend and turn a standard dish into a nice tasty delight.
However to my opinion, even with sugar, this Chai reminds me too much of a dish overflowing with spices, but in which both meats and vegetables would have been too sparsely included. It was my first Chai drinking experiment and may well probably be one my last.
For the record, I did not really appreciate the few “Christmas teas” some friends pushed to me in the past, because of that and the spice overload was definitely not as strong as in this one.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec
cteresa

cumin is a strange addition to a chai – not sure I would have dared. Though sometimes blenders do really know best.

My sympathies about the cold, I am getting out of one as well!

LaFleurBleue

That’s actually your post about your blending your own Homemade Chai which gave me the idea that this would be the perfect “cure”;)
Definitely hope you’re feeling better.

cteresa

Thank you, yes, I am feeling better, though the craving for chai is probably going to last a bit longer – it makes for a few grungy pots to scrub, but OMG it´s so good, where has that concept been all my life? My one best chai (so far) is Mariage Fréres´Chandernagor (predictably almost. it´s like they got a perfect profile on my nose and brain to figure out what cames out tasting perfect to me) but the homemade chai was fun to make and it is good – though admittedly I had some good spices at hand from Indian grocery stores which i think made a difference.

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cteresa

cumin is a strange addition to a chai – not sure I would have dared. Though sometimes blenders do really know best.

My sympathies about the cold, I am getting out of one as well!

LaFleurBleue

That’s actually your post about your blending your own Homemade Chai which gave me the idea that this would be the perfect “cure”;)
Definitely hope you’re feeling better.

cteresa

Thank you, yes, I am feeling better, though the craving for chai is probably going to last a bit longer – it makes for a few grungy pots to scrub, but OMG it´s so good, where has that concept been all my life? My one best chai (so far) is Mariage Fréres´Chandernagor (predictably almost. it´s like they got a perfect profile on my nose and brain to figure out what cames out tasting perfect to me) but the homemade chai was fun to make and it is good – though admittedly I had some good spices at hand from Indian grocery stores which i think made a difference.

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I’ve started drinking much more tea quite recently, almost completely quitting espresso for it!
I’ve been introduced to high quality tea by one of my best friend, MF Marco Polo addict since more than 20 years. I’ve only rarely bought tea-bags since then, preferring the quality-price ratio of loose leaves.
I drink my tea natural, without any milk, sugar or sweetener. I only add honey when a sore-throat is coming along.
I usually either brew a large pot at home or resteep my leaves at the office. I cannot seem to learn to master the use of a gaiwan in an elegant and not clumsy way…
My tea preferences :
- I really like flavored black teas, with a preference for fruity flavors, from a tangy Earl Grey to a real fruit smoothie-like tea. I’m trying some single origin unflavored blacks from time to time but always end up having trouble to finish them. I usually do not really enjoy the strong breakfast teas.
- I do not like chai or teas with strong spice flavors. Strange considering I really like spicy food, but not what I drink.
- I am quite afraid of pu-erh and lapsang souchong, though I probably have never drunk any real good ones and I’m quite sure it can make a huge difference… A few years ago, I had been introduced to scotch whisky and can definitely attest that you cannot say you don’t like whisky, if you’ve only drunk blended stuff and not tasted yet single malts. I hope to get the same happy discovery for those teas.
- I discovered very good oolong, without going through the step of drinking bad-one first, and really enjoy it, especially with a meal. I’ll definitely try some flavored oolongs in a near future.
- I’ve just started discovering white teas, which feels very delicate. The only problem is that those can be awfully expensive…
- I also really like rooibos which I discovered a few years ago while searching for low-theine/caffeine teas that I could drink at night without suffering from insomnia.
- As with green tea, we’ve had a long-standing difficult relationship. I’ve occasionally had some that were real smooth, refreshing and so very many that turned bitter very quickly. And I cannot stand a bitter tea.
- As for jasmine tea, I used to like it but have indeed drunk too much of some bad quality bitter brew, and now I even have problem finishing the high-quality pearls I bought in Beijing.
- Yerba Mate: I’ve had some in one blend and am quite convinced that I would never like that as bitterness is one of its main characteristics. I’ll try to avoid it like the plague.
- Herbal tea: I used to drink more or those before discovering rooibos; finding good ones is unfortunately really difficult – even in organic shops, the herbs sold are far from great.
I loathe artificial flavoring of any kind in any beverage or food.

I’m quite opiniated and try to leave room for further improvement and better discoveries, which explain why I haven’t rated any tea in the 95 and above range.
Teas above 80 are among my favorites
Between 60-80, I could or could not give them a second chance or recognize that they are made with high-quality ingredients though their taste does not please my buds.
Around 50, it starts to be rather bad and a not so pleasant experience to drink.
25 to 40+ cover low quality products that I manage to drink when nothing else is available.
Below that, it’s really vile and basically almost undrinkable IMHO.

Location

Singapore

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