This is this week’s Tea of the Week as well as the Featured Reblend/Retro Monday blend for October. I argued with myself on whether or not I should start a new entry for this since it is technically a new Pumpkin Chai – as I didn’t follow Frank’s recipe for this one. But I figured that we do have a lot of entries as it is and we actually DO have 2 Pumpkin Chai entries (this one and the Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chai) – the thought crossed my mind that having another Pumpkin Chai entry may just confuzzle everyone so I decided to just use this one.
As I said, my new Pumpkin Chai is different from the original blend. I didn’t actually have Frank’s recipe for this blend – earlier this year my old computer (that I had for about 8 years) died. Fortunately, I did sense that it’s time was approaching and I started saving my recipes to google docs and I didn’t lose too many recipes. I lost a lot of other things that I wasn’t able to retrieve but for the most part, we got through it with as little loss as possible.
Anyway – I wasn’t able to save all of Frank’s recipes and quite a few of his older ones were also lost in his own computer’s death so to be honest, I don’t recall if this particular recipe was in the set of recipes that I did have. But that’s OK. That chai was alright, but I enjoy making chai blends so I wasn’t too set on needing to recreate his.
I wanted to focus on as much pumpkin flavor as possible – which is difficult for a few reasons: a) the pumpkin bits that are added to the blend do not add a strong flavor – they’re mostly about visual appeal; b) I’ve found that it’s a bit difficult to get the pumpkin essence to express itself fully with a strong black tea base and I’m of the belief that chai blends with a black tea base should have a strong, vigorous black tea as it’s base to support those spices; and c) the strong spices tend to mask some of the pumpkin notes.
Nevertheless, I do think I managed to get some of that pumpkin to shine through.
When it comes to a chai though, the most important thing (at least for me) is the spice. I like a warm and cozy chai – and I even appreciate a really robust, spicy chai. Usually when I get a chai with spices on the subtle side, I find myself somewhat disappointed. It’s something that happens often when it comes to coffee shop chai blends – because most of them use one particular brand of chai concentrate (and I’m not going to name names) and it isn’t a very strong chai – it tastes mostly like milk and sugar to me – with some notes of cinnamon and ginger. I usually get no real discernible tea flavor from those blends and very little in the way of spice. There are only a few coffee shops out there where I’ll get a chai latte these days and those are ones that I KNOW do not serve that particular brand of chai concentrate.
Anyway, I digress.
I wanted this chai to be something that kept the spice profile strong even if I added some milk for a latte (because pumpkin chai blends should be made into a latte, amirite?) and I think I managed to accomplish this. I do recommend that if you decide to go latte with this, that you brew it strong so that the milk doesn’t dilute the tea because this was made to be served as a straight up tea.
And it is good as both a straight up tea and as a latte. As a latte, it’s smooth and creamy, with a really nice peppery bite to it. When it’s a latte, the pumpkin becomes very silky tasting, reminding me almost of a pumpkin yogurt but without that tang of the yogurt, which makes me wonder how some plain kefir might fair in this? Would the kefir curdle with the heat of the tea? It’s not something I’ve ever tried – so I don’t know. If any of you have tried such a thing – please let me know how it turned out!
Anyway, I’m quite happy with this blend – happy that I’m able to enjoy some chai as the weather is definitely CHAI weather to me and also because it’s yummy!