The snow is falling but I have nowhere I need to be so I am at home sipping teas and staying warm. I reached for this chai because nothing says warmth like standing by the stove to warm up a cup full of spices, except for maybe sipping that warm cup of spices wrapped in a fuzzy blanket on the couch but I digress. Anyways, I got my pot and whisk all ready to go so imagine my surprise when I opened this up and there was a powder mix inside. In fact, the hard piece I thought was a stick of cinnamon when I was holding the closed package was actually just a small wooden measuring spoon. Well, that certainly makes things easier. Plus, the package comes with directions so as per the instructions, I got my kettle boiling and topped about 1/2 a teaspoon of the powder mix with 8 oz of water, gave it a stir and filled the rest of my 16 oz mug with milk. I guess I will be getting to that blanket sooner that I expected.
The smell of chai spices is strong but what stands out above all else is the star anise. The scent fills the room, making me a little hesitant since I am not the biggest fan of star anise and my relationship with chais are timid at best. Bringing the mug closer to my mouth, the anise smell only got stronger so I knew that when I took that first sip that an anise punch was coming my way. I braced myself and was pretty surprised when I didn’t hate it. The star anise is certainly the most prominent flavor when you first taste this chai but as you let the flavors roll around you realize this is not a one-note treat. The star anise and milk provide a sweet creaminess that seamlessly blends with the sweetness of the cinnamon. In turn, the cinnamon bridges the gap between sweet and spice and gives way to a ginger kick, boosted by the spice of ground black pepper and the warmth of cloves, that lingers on your tongue long after the sip has finished. Nutmeg floats around the mix giving this just a little more depth while the black tea functions more as a stage on which the spices are the stars.
All in all, I can appreciate this as a pretty good chai. For those that enjoy star anise or licorice-type flavors, this is a great pick. It helps that this is also a quick and easy chai to whip up. However, for those who are more like me and don’t really enjoy that distinct star-anise flavor, this probably isn’t for you. With that in mind, Blue Lotus Chai offers a variety of other chai flavors that might catch your eye.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Masala Chai
Where to Buy: Blue Lotus Chai
Our Star Anise Masala Chai is absolutely delicious! It has all of the signature BLC spices, with star anise contributing deep, but subtle licorice notes.
Ingredients: Naturally brewed and flash-dried black tea powder; 100% Certified Organic powdered spices: ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, star anise.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Tranquility from Beleave Teas isn’t normally something I would grab off the shelf first but there is something about this herbal tisane that spoke to me. After some rather long reflection and sipping I cam to the conclusion it was because of the vanilla dancing with both the peppermint and the spearmint that was what spoke to me the most.
The chamomile was plentiful in this tisane but the mint and vanilla helped smooth it out and calm it down nicely. The raspberry, papaya, and star anise played a subtle but appreciated part. I noticed the wild cherry bark more as an afterthought and aftertaste more than anything but it was something that lingered nicely as well.
Tranquility from Beleave Teas took me by surprise because I wasn’t expecting much from it but with everything that went into this herbal and the impression it left on me the more and more I appreciated it.
The first few sample sips I tried were as a hot cuppa but I kept wondering how it would be iced so I finished the rest of the batch cold and it was just as good if not better! It certainly pays to think (and sip) outside of your comfort zone and Tranquility from Beleave Teas was a great reminder of that!
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Herbal/Tisane
Where to Buy: Beleave Teas
This tea looks as lovely as it tastes with ingredients to calm even the most restless soul. Chamomile, rosehips, raspberry, papaya, peppermint, vanilla and star anise just to name a few.
- Origin: Small farmers from around the world.
- Ingredients: Chamomile flowers, rosehips, raspberry, papaya, peppermint, spearmint, strawberry leaf, vanilla, passion flower, red clover, star anise, and wild cherry bark.
- Caffeine Rating: None
- Steeping Instructions: Temperature 208 degrees, Steep 4-6 Minutes
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Thanks to LiberTEAS for the idea for this blend (and no, I’m certainly not calling her a witch of any sort; that’s just what this blend brings to mind for me). LiberTEAS wanted a smoky chai blend with some additional spices, so we blended some of our premium black tea base with some extra assam and some lapsang souchoung (smoked black tea), ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, star anise, nutmeg and cumin along with some organic flavors. The result is a smoky, spicy treat that will warm you to your bones. Get yours today while they last.
Learn more about this chai here.
Now, that’s what I’m talking about!
If you read the above description, you’ll see that I suggested this blend to Frank (the Chief Zoomdweebie over at 52Teas), and he made it for me and called it Witches’ Brew Chai Blend. He wanted to express to me that he in no way thinks I’m a witch, but I told him that it’s perfectly fine to think of me as such … I’ve been called worse! Ha!
Back when I was still blending teas, I created what I considered the perfect chai. I know I’ve told that story more than once. I spent over a year creating the perfect recipe. One of the ingredients that was a MUST for my chai back then was cumin seeds. I would even toast the cumin seeds myself, because it brought out such a lovely, warm, slightly smoky flavor. And of course, I never forgot the nutmeg, which I would freshly grind into the blend.
But one spice that I didn’t include in my chai was star anise. This is a spice that I didn’t become well acquainted with until after my blending days were over, and I have since fallen in love with the spice and it’s licorice-y tones. So, when I asked Frank to create this blend, I wanted star anise in there too. I thought that the star anise, together with the other spices and the smoky notes of Lapsang Souchong … would be … absolutely divine.
And I was not wrong.
This is as perfect a chai as I’ve ever tasted since I stopped blending my own. I love the star anise, I love that it is warm and spicy and there is a complexity within the spice notes. I love that I taste the rich, malty tones of the black tea base, and the way the smoky notes of the Lapsang Souchong meld with the licorice-y notes and the spice.
I love it served non-latte with a teaspoon of turbinado sugar to enhance the spices. It also makes a spectacular latte, just add a splash of milk or cream. Do take care not to add too much milk to the cup because the dimensions of flavor from the spices is really amazing … and too much of the creamy stuff will obscure that. Just a little bit of milk or cream to bring out the malty notes of the Assam will make a devilishly delicious chai latte!
And this chai is perfectly named too. One taste of this and it evokes thoughts of a great big cauldron over a pit fire, and a cloaked figure stirring the brew. This is SO SO SO good.
This is, hands down, my favorite chai from 52Teas yet … and certainly one of my top favorite chai blends of all time! It’s awesome!
Leaf Type: Honeybush
Where to Buy: Bird’s Eye Tea
Ingredients: honeybush, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, orange zest, star anise, pink peppercorns, and licorice root.
Learn more about this tisane here.
Learn more about subscribing to Bird’s Eye Tea here.
Oh! This Honeybush Spice tisane from Bird’s Eye Tea is delightful. I was very excited to try this when I read the ingredient list (above) because I love star anise and licorice … and I don’t often find them in blends together. I usually find either star anise or licorice root, but because they do possess similar characteristics, they aren’t usually combined. But I like them combined … it really pushes the sweet, sassy flavor of licorice into focus.
But, what I am really liking is that the licorice-y flavor isn’t all that I taste. There is warm cinnamon and cardamom, plus the zesty flavor of ginger. And the orange brightens the whole cup.
The honeybush is sweet, a little bit nutty, and very smooth. I like how the earthy flavors of the spices really come through to enhance the dimension of the honeybush – sometimes honeybush can taste a little on the thin side, but that’s not the case with this cup. The spices give not just the cup depth, but also lets me really enjoy the taste of the honeybush as well.
This tisane was one of Bird’s Eye Tea’s February 2012 tea selections that they sent me to sample, and I’m really glad I got a chance to try it. The warmth of this tisane is perfect for this time of year – it’s so naturally warming and comforting, something that you want to curl up with on a cold winter’s day like this. This is wonderful!
Leaf Type: Rooibos
Where to Buy: Fusion Teas
By itself, chai is merely the generic word for “tea” in much of South Asia and many other parts of the world. In western society chai has become to imply a spiced version of tea. Traditionally a strong base is used so that the spices and sweeteners do not overpower it. Rooibos is perfect in this manner because of the bold almost nuttiness flavor that is present.
There are a wide variety of spices that can be used. When you think of chai you immediately think of “warm” spices. Any combination of the following can be used: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seeds, peppercorn, cloves, ginger, and star anise. Cardamon being the most common added spice for its dominant characteristic while a combination of the others play a supplemental role. Our Red Bush Chai stays true to tradition with its boldness.
I’ve sampled quite a few chai-inspired rooibos blends. Some I’ve liked, some I didn’t. I like this one. It is warm and spicy without being too spicy.
In many rooibos chai blends, I don’t taste much from the rooibos, and usually I’m quite happy with that. However, I do taste the rooibos here – I taste that distinct nutty flavor of rooibos – and I am finding myself really enjoying the taste. The sweet, nutty flavor of the rooibos melds nicely with warmth of the spices, adding a pleasant depth to this cup. Also nice is the bright flavor from the citrus peel. It isn’t a dominate flavor, but it adds a vibrant kiss of flavor to the drink.
I really like the blend of spices. A nice peppery kick – but not too powerful a kick. A hint of sweet, sassy licorice from the fennel and anise, but unlike some chai blends that add the fennel and/or anise with a heavy hand, here, the licorice tones are in the background, providing a gentle, welcome flavor. Warmth from the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
Really tasty, this Red Bush Chai from Fusion Tea Room!