Assam Masala Chai Tea from Teabox

AssamMasalaChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teabox

Tea Description:

Our Assam Masala Chai blend is made with premium Assam CTC black tea mixed with dry spices that include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and black pepper corns.  

This spiced chai blend has been expertly put together by our in-house tea masters for a flavorful cup that envelopes the decadent flavor of Assam tea in the warmth of exotic spices.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

A new to me company that I had been hearing about on Steepster, I was in the mood for some new chai and I saw that Teabox had a really nice selection.

My first impression of the company following my order?  I’m impressed:  I placed this order five days ago.  Five days after I placed the order, my tea has been delivered!  From India!  (I’m in the US!)  I don’t think I’ve ever had an international order arrive so swiftly.

The packaging was nice too.  It arrived via DHL, so the outer package was nothing spectacular, just a DHL poly envelope.  But inside was a box.  The inside of the box was lined with tissue paper that was adorned with a sticker, and my teas were tucked a bag.  It’s a nice presentation.  It looks like someone took a few minutes to prepare this package instead of having everything thrown into a box or an envelope and shipped out.  It was packaged with some care and this shows me that this vendor cares about the product that they’re sending out.

Unfortunately, there was a little problem with what I received from them.  I received two pouches of tea that are called “Assam Masala Chai” – actually, one is labeled “Masala Chai” but on the label, it lists these ingredients:

Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove, Assam Tea

The second pouch is labeled Assam Masala Chai and lists the following ingredients:

Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove, Ginger, Black Pepper.

Since it’s called “Assam Masala Chai, I guess it’s also fair to assume that Assam Tea is part of this blend.

When I brought this issue to the attention of Teabox, I was sent some very prompt replies to get the issue resolved.  They informed me that the first tea that I tried (which included the first set of ingredients) was their Masala Indian Chai Tea, but it isn’t.  Even though the SKU matches, the Masala Indian Chai Tea has green tea and Tulsi, and this tea was a black tea with no tulsi.  It had Cinnamon, clove, and cardamom.  And Black tea.

Teabox asked me to send them a photo of the tea and the label, but, I’m not going to do that because the battery in my camera isn’t working at the moment and the camera in my phone is pretty much worthless.  I love my phone, it’s great for texting and phone calls and that’s what I use it for.  I haven’t gotten on the smart phone train yet.  I’m still pretty old school with my LG enV3.  Love it.  Not ready to ditch it yet.

So, I’m still pretty impressed with this company, because I’m not going to let something like this product mislabeling get me down.  I still got six chai teas for a low price and with very speedy shipping.  And their customer service IS responsive.  I just wasn’t so concerned about the tea that I was going to worry about sending them photos.  I’ll just let the issue be.  I decided to ditch the review of the “Masala Chai” and go with the “Assam Masala Chai.”

The spices are very fragrant.  The tea is a fine CTC (as is in the picture) but the spices are much larger in the photo than in the actual tea.  And the photo shows ginger and there was no sign of ginger in this blend.  Everything has been chopped pretty finely.

And what that says to me is to reduce the steep time.  A smaller cut to the leaves means more surface area exposed which means it steeps faster, releasing its flavor faster, but it also means that the tea can become bitter faster so take care to not oversteep.  With a chai like this one, I steeped the tea for 2 1/2 minutes.  (1 heaping bamboo scoop in the basket of my Kati Tumbler along with 12 ounces of water heated to 205°.)

Mmm!  Nice.  It’s a good, flavorful chai with a warm, zesty kick of spice.  The Assam is a robust black tea with notes of malt.  This is a tea that I strongly recommend not oversteeping.  It’s a very finely chopped CTC and I think that for my palate, I wouldn’t steep longer than 2 1/2 minutes.  I might even go for 2 minutes if I were steeping this for someone else because while I’m not getting a strong bitter note, I do detect some bitterness.

But it does have a very lovely malty flavor and a pleasant richness to it.  It’s a hearty, full-flavored Assam.

The spices are strong but well-balanced.  I get a spicy, peppery note from the ginger and black pepper, but this flavor doesn’t overpower the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.  It’s warm and spicy, but it’s not what I’d call spicy-hot.  It doesn’t have my throat or mouth feeling as though I need a fire extinguisher, but it does offer a soothing warmth that is perfect on this cold afternoon.

If you love a sweet, creamy chai latte, brew this tea a little stronger than you would for a straight up cup by adding a little extra leaf.  (Don’t steep it longer, it will be stronger but it will also be bitter!)  Then warm up some milk (or almond milk!) in the microwave for about 45 seconds and add a splash of the milk (to your taste) to the brewed chai.  If you have a frother, use it on the milk before you add it to the tea, this will make it frothy and fluffy.  Add a little bit of honey or turbinado sugar if you like your chai sweet.  (A little bit of sugar will enhance the spices too!)

Rather than go latte with this tea, I decided to not add the milk but I did add about half a teaspoon of turbinado sugar to the cup.  As I said above, I find that this brings out the flavor of the spices just a little more.

This is a delightful chai for these chilly winter afternoons (or morning!)  A great tea to curl up to while reading a good book.

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