This tea has a number of very negative reviews on here, which certainly didn’t make a case for my trying it. What did urge me to do so was that it has almost the exact same spice mix as my holy grail chai—something I’ve been unable to get in other chais, maybe because they rarely have star anise and nutmeg, which I find really rounds out the flavour. The only difference between the ingredients is that this has vanilla, pepper, chicory, and black tea. Other than that, in its ingredients and in the thrust of the flavour, it’s somewhat reminiscent of my favourite chai, and more so than any other chai has been so far. Of course, the quality of the other chai is much higher, because it uses whole spices that are boiled for a long time and this uses a tea bag (and as anyone who uses spices knows, when spices are ground or cut into little bits, they lose their flavour and potency more quickly than whole spices do.) Wanting a spicy cup of deliciousness, faced with the lack of availability of my favourite chai, and unwell to boot, this chai was what I needed. Yes, this tea’s not fancy, but it does the spice mix pretty well and it’s a quick, easy treat.
I had this as a latte with sweetener, the way I always drink chai, so I can’t comment on the bitterness other people have had (I really can’t understand the idea of drinking chai unsweetened, anyway). This tea smells good, tastes good, and in stark contrast to my favourite chai, is quick to prepare. It’ll never be my favourite chai, but unlike a number of others I’ve tried, it’s worth drinking again.
I’m unclear on whether the reason people don’t like this may be because the spices are different to that in a lot of chais and that doesn’t appeal to them. It’s hard to tell, because a lot of them just seem to say, “It’s not good!” I’d say for me, the main disadvantages to this are the vanilla (not only was it a bit strong for my liking, I still kind of feel like vanilla is a bit inappropriate in chai [maybe that’s just because it’s easily overdone, though]) and the fact that the spices weren’t assertive enough with their spiciness. The combination of the spices not being spicy enough and the vanilla being a bit strong meant that, although the spice flavour itself tasted authentic, this execution of chai didn’t seem very much so. I missed that sense of heat that I got with my favourite chai, something that I think really adds to that “chai comfort effect”, and I felt like the strength of the vanilla in this pushed it into dessert territory in a negative way. Also, the black tea flavour doesn’t make its presence felt that much, but since I’m really in the chai for the spices anyway, that didn’t matter to me.
I guess if you’re looking for a robust black tea with heavy chai spiciness, this isn’t going to be for you. But if you’re looking for that, do you think you’re going to get it in a tea bag, and one with a dessert-y element like vanilla at that? If you read the box and thought that the black tea would be “rich and hearty”, the spices “lively”, and the vanilla present as just “a touch”, then I could maybe understand disappointment with the product.