This is another of the local teas that I sent along with the GCTTB, and like the one last week it’s also one of their most popular blends. The first time I heard of this chai (I hadn’t even had a chance to smell it yet) I knew I had to have some.
The first thing you notice upon smelling the dry tea leaves is maple, but not the super sweet grocery store kind of maple, this is the authentic maple scent. Underneath that come the spices… I always worry with a chai that the cinnamon will be overdone and that it’s scent (and flavor) would be the only thing that I find, but not with this one. The clove, cinnamon and cardamom all work together quite nicely and are well balanced, though not as prominent as one might expect. You can also catch a hint of the pink peppercorn (which also gives it a nice visual pop as well) and a bit of matiness from the Assam tea. It’s a really dark, warm and well-rounded scent profile with the occasional highlight from the safflower petals.
The liquor is a deep orange-gold with a fair amount of particulate, and smells of malt, maple and a nice touch of spice. Again it’s not super sweet but the malt and the maple combine to form a very interesting aroma, they complement each other in a way I really can’t quite describe… but the smell is lovely.
I don’t however get a lot of spice notes in the flavor, don’t get me wrong they are there, I can taste the cinnamon and clove with just a touch of cardamom and a slight tingle from the peppercorn but it’s not “Chai like” to me (kinda similar to DT’s Pumpkin Chai, it’s more spiced than Chai, at least in the way I see/taste :)) I was also really surprised the first time I tasted this, I expected much more maple in the flavor profile, but it actually serves more as a supporting note, complementing the slightly astringent Assam base nicely with true maple flavor. Nor is it as sweet as I was expecting (again not a bad thing! It’s just that this tea kept blowing all my preconceived notions away!) but at the same time it holds up well to extra sweetener too if you’re looking for sweet.
I enjoy this tea, it’s brisk but smooth, spiced but yet just sweet enough and a has a really good balance between the flavors and the “base” Assam tea. (Though I do think the title’s a bit misleading but again I’m particular that way ;) )