Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Shanti Tea
To live here in the Pacific Northwest and actually love living here, I believe you’ve also got to love rainy days. Now, there may be some people who love living here and don’t like rain, but I think that a person that lives here is probably much happier if they happen to like rain. I’m one of those that do. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it to rain constantly (I’d get a little tired of that), but there is something about the grey, overcast skies and the cool, misty air that I really love about the Pacific Northwest.
For one thing, the “wet season” of the Pacific Northwest makes perfect “chai” weather. Generally, I prefer tea hot, and for me, chai is so perfectly warm and cozy with its abundance of spices, and when served latte style it is pure comfort food in a teacup. And this time of year is really the best time to enjoy a steaming cup of chai latte goodness.
And that’s just what I have in front of me. This Kashmiri Chai from Shanti Tea is a little different from many chai blends out there. The first thing I’ve noticed is that this chai doesn’t have ginger or cloves. It has an adequate amount of cinnamon and cardamom, though, and these provide a deliciously different platform of spices here.
And the almonds! This isn’t the first chai that I’ve encountered with almonds, of course, but it is usually a pleasant surprise when I find them in a chai. This time, it’s especially noteworthy because the almonds and the cardamom are very pleasantly balanced, with the sweet, nutty flavor of the almonds accenting the exotic sweetness of the cardamom.
The cinnamon is not to be overlooked, either, and it’s not about to sit back and let the cardamom and almonds hog the spotlight in this blend. It is warm and spicy, but I’m not finding it to be overwhelmingly so. It doesn’t taste like the spicy-hot cinnamon you might experience in a hot tamale candy, for example, it is more like the warm, sweet cinnamon you might taste in your grandmother’s apple pie.
The flavor of the black tea is also there … somewhere … although I must say that it is a bit more subtle than the spices. It isn’t a very strong black tea, I suspect it may be a Ceylon, but it does provide a decent background flavor for the spice and almonds, and even with the less-than-optimal amount of black tea flavor in this chai, I don’t know that I would change this blend, because I am enjoying it so much just the way it is.
For those who are looking for a chai in which the tea is dominate, this isn’t the chai for you. However, I would recommend checking out Shanti Teas’ rather impressive line-up of chai blends, there’s sure to be one there that’s perfect for you!
This is a delicious change of pace from the usual chai blends. It is delicious served with or without milk, although I prefer it as a latte because the creaminess really makes this chai something special!
Where To Buy: Shanti Tea
Traditional Kashmiri blend of black tea and spices which produces the rich, semi-sweet and nutty flavor favored in Kashmir.
This traditional Kashmiri recipe is a blend of black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, and almond flakes and essence which produces the rich, semi-sweet and nutty flavor favored in Kashmir.
Chai is a funny thing…It’s one of those “you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time” sort of things. Many people take their chai VERY seriously. Some people say the more spice the better where as others enjoy it more mild. Others always add additives and some no additives at all. I know of many people who swear by chai prep via stove top and others who have never tried that method and think that way of preparing chai doesn’t matter. AND…several people go back and forth about which countries are famous for their chai and which are not.
As for this specific chai…I thought it was ok. There really isn’t anything wrong with this chai at all. Not in my book at least. It smells spicy but not overly. I can certainly taste the spices. The spices are THE flavor. It has a bit of a funky aftertaste for me but it’s still ok. The thing that stands out on this chai, for me, were the spices. I can taste little else past the spices, actually, but still think this is a decent chai to have on hand.
Question of the day: What are your personal preferences with chai?