I received a sample pouch of this chai with my most recent Adagio order. I was not exactly thrilled. I have hated all forms of chai since I was a teenager. I don’t remember why I developed such a hatred for the stuff. I love tea and I normally like spicy things, so one would expect chai to be right up my alley. Sadly, one would be wrong, or at least one would be wrong most of the time. I did not find this chai to be all that bad.
I followed Adagio’s brewing guidelines for this one. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose material in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 10 minutes. At one point, I tried a shorter steep time of around 8 minutes, but I could not detect much of a difference from the longer infusion, so I will be limiting myself to a discussion of that specific preparation. I also tried a 10 minute infusion with an addition of milk. I will comment on that one briefly.
Prior to infusion, the loose tea and spice blend greeted me with overpowering aromas of cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. I failed to note the aroma of ginger. After infusion, I again noted pronounced aromas of cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. I again failed to pick up the presence of ginger. In the mouth, I detected strong notes of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and ginger underscored by traces of cream, malt, caramel, and toast. The tea base seemed a little weak to me. I also noticed that as the liquor moved from the entry to the finish in the mouth, the notes of cinnamon and ginger became increasingly dominant. I think it may have been a good idea for Adagio to rein in the cinnamon a bit. It was a little distracting. Interestingly, this chai came across as richly and boldy spicy, as well as a bit bitter and biting. Trying this same preparation with an addition of milk yielded a slightly smoother, sweeter, silkier brew. The milk seemed to bring out the tea base a little more, but it unfortunately further muted the cardamom and clove aromas and flavors to a limited extent.
I don’t know. I fully expected to hate this stuff, but I didn’t. Actually, I thought it was pretty decent for a masala chai. Granted I have not exactly been consuming chai on a regular basis or anything, but I could still get through this without many complaints. I think the fact that it was more robustly spicy and a touch more bitter than I was expecting made me appreciate it more. If I had more of it, I would try it with both milk and a touch of either honey or sugar just to see if the cinnamon and ginger could be tamed a little more.
Flavors: Biting, Bitter, Caramel, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cream, Ginger, Malt, Spicy, Toast