The first time I made this, I brewed the tea, added half soy milk after it had steeped, and went to pour in some sweetener. Before I knew it, a very large amount had come out. The drink was overly sweet and the tea flavour that was coming through was rather forgettable. I thought just to give it a fair shot (and also because I needed the stimulation and hadn’t had a cup of chai in a long time), I’d empty out the contents of the tea bags and put all of the liquid into a saucepan and boil it for a while to get more of the tea flavour out. In the meantime, I started writing a review on how this tea is basically another average-at-best black tea chai, one that has confirmed the fact that black tea just muddles the delicious spiciness of chai and that the only worthwhile chais are the large whole spices by themselves or a rooibos mixed with these.
I came back to taste the tea after a while, and I felt inclined to backspace everything I’d written. This tea was a surprise to me in the end, and pleasantly a slight bit reminiscent of my holy grail chai, Rainbow Chai (which I can’t buy in Germany).
Tragically, I was neglectful of the pot because I was trying to get ready for a meeting at the time, and part of the tea boiled over, so I didn’t get the full serve I would’ve liked or that would’ve been useful to give a more comprehensive first impression in terms of the flavour. Instead of two cups of tea, I got about half a cup : ( Some notable things I can share about this tea are that it seems refreshingly traditional and makes cardamom a key player. It’s not a weak cinnamon-ginger bomb, it’s not packed with yucky things like licorice, fennel, pepper, etc. It was pretty tasty. It took me until the third time I tried this tea to pick up on just how evident the presence of the anise is (previously, I had just got a nice spicy melange with black tea that had with the longer steeping miraculously gone from dominating to being put in its place as just one ingredient of a spicy, complex brew), but even by then I didn’t feel like I tasted anything particularly laurel-y, and I didn’t taste that much clove. It seemed to be mostly ginger, cardamom, and anise, with a touch of cinnamon, and a backdrop of tea. It can be a bit hard to pick these spices out, though—probably because they’re often used together in teas and baking, so it’s easy when they’re always mixed to get a bit thrown off. I like this tea, but it could never replace my beloved Rainbow Chai. There’s also something vaguely medicinal about it, and I don’t mean that (appealing) eucalyptus-y cardamom taste. In fact, the smell of the tea brewed and with soy milk for some reason strikes me as a combination of a milky, gingery chai (this one smells a fair bit like lebkuchen) with a very faint, far away note that is for some reason like antiseptic iodine solution. A problem unrelated to the scent or taste, but which is noticeable and must be noted is that the tea is not as spicy as other chais, and I think that’s a real drawback. The spiciness is part of the comfort for me, and it feels much too subdued here.
If you’ve found black chais unsavoury in the past, I’d give this one a go. If it doesn’t satisfy you on the first round, steep it longer with your milk and sweetener. The tastes I got on the second and third tries were unlike like what I tasted the first time around. When I first wrote this entry, I said, “I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying it again. I found it comforting and well executed.” I’ve tried it three times now, and I don’t think I necessarily feel that way anymore. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with the tea as such, it’s that I’m comparing it to something I tried long before and developed a real love for. Kashmir Tchai came as a pleasant suprise to me, and needless to say, I was devastated when I came back downstairs the first time I made it thinking, “The entire cooktop looks brown…why is that?” before realising that it had been inundated with the tea I’d been looking forward to. Ultimately, though, it’s like a chai rebound to me or something. I feel like I can enjoy it when I’m drinking it, but subconsciously I’m thinking about missing Rainbow Chai. This chai still cut it to some degree, as with other chais I’ve had while in Europe, but in a way they all feel like new chai boyfriends that make me reminisce about the good times with my ex-chai.