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Recent Tasting Notes
Oh hey! I figured out the problem with this tea, and now it is a definite and substantial improvement. I usually steep my chai teas with 212F water for 4 minutes, and that’s a sufficiency. Any more than that and I start to get the stewed-tea effect.
That’s not the problem here. This one wanted a full 8 minute steep, and once I did that, the flavor improved wildly. It also rebrewed well. OK, I amend my earlier rating, this one’s a keeper. Not a regular, but a keeper.
First rating: 66
Why do I keep buying Chocolate Chais? Why do I do this to myself? It’s never what I’m after – I’m always hoping for that awesome mouthfeel of a particularly good spiced hot chocolate, and tea is never that thing. This is not the fault of the Chai, it is the fault of my expectations, and I’m well aware of that. I should stop trying, give up, and go drink a normal chai because that will taste like what I’m expecting, or spice my hot cocoa. Not try to combine the two.
That being said, this chai actually does a much better job than most of achieving something close to what I’m trying for. If it were a bit heftier on the spices, I might try actually boiling the tea in milk and then straining it, and seeing if I could make chocolate spiced milk. (I did try steeping a hefty tablespoon of it in 8 ounces of water and then combining it equal parts with milk – it still wasn’t right.)
There is a definite chocolate-ness to this Chai. It’s not pretending about the chocolate at all. As it cools, and after you’ve swallowed it, there is actually quite a nice chai there as well in the aftertaste, not too heavy on the cloves, no numbness in the mouth. (And not punching me in the teeth with cardamom, which I appreciate. I had another tea recently that used green cardamom that was too fierce.) The nose is also definitely chocolate – I expect that’s not just the nibs but the real chocolate bits in there. (Makes cleaning my tea strainer a bit of a chore, but that’s what fats will do.) So all in all, a perfectly serviceable chai that is exactly what it says on the tin.
But it’s not spiced hot cocoa, which is what my brain expects when I drink something that smells this chocolate-y, and so I have a sad. I will not be buying it again, but I at least will not be as sorry that I tried this one as several other chocolate teas and chais I’ve tried in the past.
Somebody remind me I don’t like chocolate chai next time I go tea shopping, ’kay?
Flavors: Cardamom, Chocolate, Cloves
Really more a lady grey than an earl grey. There are big chunks of orange peel in the bag, but I opt to not ever drop them in the infuser, as this tea has plenty enough citrus flavor to go around without the peels.
In general, I try to avoid the fruitier teas, especially when I am dealing with earl grey. Double bergamots are the sort of thing I have no interest in, and lady greys are pushing the limits of my fruit threshold. With all of that said, this really is a delicious tea which I regularly enjoy and have no hesitation in recommending. I picked this up at the Trailhead store location in downtown Sedona, and was pleased to meet the proprietor and see his utter devotion to fine teas. If you are ever in the Sedona area, definitely stop in and sample the goods in this tea shop. Their selection is astonishing and the proprietor’s expertise is impressive.
As for the tea itself, as I noted earlier, it does carry quite a citrus kick, but the quality of the Ceylon black tea is what carries this blend over the top. Really makes a refreshing cup, particularly if you really watch the clock, as the window for optimum steeping is quite narrow here. I find 4:30 to be the perfect steeping time, and not a second longer. Well-steeped, this makes a delicious and heartily strong cup which can really get you going on a winter morning. The coloration is a beautiful burgundy, and the aroma will linger pleasantly in the kitchen for a good long while. I made a pot this morning and complimented it with a plain bagel with a schmear of plain cream cheese. It was a simple breakfast, but absolutely delicious to the last crumb and drop. As I said, I highly recommend this tea, and I highly recommend stopping by the Trailhead store as well.
Flavors: Bergamot, Orange