Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
Chai is a wonderful thing. When the spices and tea are just right, there is something alchemical about the flavors with or without milk and honey. We set out to build a better chai, starting with the tea. We use our chocolatey, malty Laoshan Village black tea as the base, and build up from there with traditional additions like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and peppercorn. We found that it wasn’t quite rich enough as a simple chai, so we added burdock root for a graham cracker sweetness, fennel for a lingering aftertaste, elderberry to deepen the flavors and finally, saffron strands to make the whole concoction perfectly smooth and creamy.
Ingredients: Laoshan Black Tea, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Fennel, Cardamom Seeds, Cardamom Pods, Elderberry, Peppercorn, Burdock, Saffron.
Learn more about this tea here.
As I’ve mentioned before, I love chai and while I’ve tasted and reviewed many really wonderful chai blends, I don’t think I’ve found one that lives up to my Masterpiece Chai. And while this Laoshan Village Chai from Verdant Tea is REALLY good, I can’t really compare it to my Masterpiece Chai because they are really two very different chai blends.
As with any chai, though, it is important to consider the base tea. And Verdant Tea used their Laoshan Black tea which I previously reviewed, and in my opinion that makes a big difference in the brewed cup. The flavor is rich and malty and even has hints of chocolate-y notes in the background and these notes add so much to the overall cup.
The “usual” spices – cinnamon, clove, ginger and cardamom – are all present and are balanced quite well here. Also sometimes found in chai blends are pepper and fennel; Verdant added some of these spices to this chai as well. These spices make up a delicious base of spices that bring to mind many of the usual terms that I use to describe chai: spicy, sweet, tangy, and zesty.
But Verdant Tea was not content to stop with just the “usual” and added a few other interesting spices such as burdock root and saffron. And WOW what a difference these two spices make. The burdock root gives it a sweetness and a sort of “bread-y” depth. Together with the ginger, it gives a flavor that is a bit like gingerbread.
The saffron adds such a distinct flavor to this as well as an amazing aroma. Savory bitterness but also a delightful sweetness and hint of spice that you don’t typically experience with a chai … except for those that might include saffron.
I absolutely LOVE the way the spices come together here. It is spicy, but not what I’d call super-spicy or spicy-hot. Instead, it is more of a savory spicy flavor with medium heat. This is more flavorful than it is spicy … if that makes sense. This is a chai I’d recommend to someone looking for a fairly warm but not too spicy chai – one with a good balance of spices that keeps the taste buds actively exploring. This is also a chai I’d recommend to foodies because of the diversity of flavor to the cup.
Superb! Very well done, Verdant Tea!