Original Chai from Chico Chai

chicochai-original-thumbTea Type:
Chai Tea/
Black Tea Based

Where To Buy:
Chico Chai

Product Description:

Black Tea + Spices
A more traditional blend, robust and spicy. –
See more at: http://chicochaitea.com/our-products/#sthash.ICDqfCj1.dpuf
Tasters Review:
Original Chai from Chico Chai has been my go-to Chai for the last couple of months.  It really IS a mighty fine Chai with traditional spices of chai.  The quality of both the black tea base as well as the chai spices are of top-notch quality.  They are REAL, whole ingredients…not extracts or flavorings.  Each batch stirred by hand…it’s really something special!  Another thing I love about Chico Chai is that they support their community and strive to support sustainability.  Their ingredients are organic and they do their best to package their product in such a way where they use as little packaging materials as possible.
When it comes to aroma and taste – this product continues to shine!  It’s spicy and bold.  Since I don’t add milk or other additives to my teas – not even chai – I was able to taste each and every spice that was in this chai.  It was remarkable.

Chocolate Chai Blend from Chico Chai

chocolate-chaiChai Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy:  Chico Chai

Chai Description:

Raw cacao is blended with black tea and exotic spices to create a spicy chai with a touch of chocolate. Blended in small batches, by hand in Chico, California. Only Organic Ingredients and Fair Trade Organic teas are used to make Chico Chai. 

Learn more about this chai here.

Taster’s Review: 

I started getting excited to try this Chocolate Chai Blend from Chico Chai as it brewed because I could smell the anise and the cacao.  The aroma of the tea as it brews is so delightfully yummy!

And it tastes even yummier than it smells.  The brewed liquid is kind of … well, I want to call it cloudy, but, in the tea world calling a tea “cloudy” is not a compliment, and I don’t want to insult the tea.  The reason it is cloudy is because of the finely ground cacao.  This looks a little like someone combined tea with hot cocoa.  So with this chai, cloudy is a GOOD thing because that’s chocolate in there!  (Mmm!  Chocolate!)

I brewed this the way I typically brew a chai:  with water instead of milk (I prefer to taste the tea brewed without milk first, and then decide if I need or want the dairy addition) and it’s brewed a little strong to make sure that I get a good representation of both spices and tea in the cup.  Also, if the tea is brewed strong (with extra leaf), if I do choose to add milk, the addition won’t dilute the tea.

And after my first sip … this really doesn’t need milk.  I believe that there is some vanilla in this chai, because there is a creamy element to the cup without the milk.  Perhaps it is the cacao, although I suspect it is a combination of both of these ingredients that is giving this cup it’s creamy notes.  Of course, if you wish to add milk to it, there’s be no harm in that – I’m sure it would be delicious!  But, I like it just the way it is!

This is chocolate-y rich, but, I like that the spices are still the star of this show.  OH … the anise!  I love the combination of anise and chocolate together.  So delicious.  The anise is warm and zesty, and the chocolate tastes rich and dark and decadent.  Mmm!  Smooth, but, the snappy licorice  sort of cuts through it at just the right point.

I also taste the pepper and the ginger, and the cinnamon is also strong, but, it doesn’t overpower the cup.  This is a pleasantly spicy cup and it’s probably not for those who usually shy away from spicy-hot flavors.  It’s not exactly hot, really, but there’s enough heat to it to slowly warm the palate and as I continue to drink, this builds a little in a very agreeable way.

I’ve had the opportunity to try all of the flavors from Chico Chai, and I think of all of the four loose leaf chai blends that they offer (you can try them all in their Chico Chai Sampler Box – it’s such a cute box – and it would make a really great gift for the chai lover on your holiday list!) as well as their strong brew concentrate, this Chocolate Chai blend is my favorite!  I love the way the chocolate and anise meld together … I love the way the spices and the black tea work together harmoniously.  I just … LOVE it!

Loose Leaf Red Chai Rooibos Blend from Chico Chai


Chai Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  Chico Chai

Chai Description:

African Red Tea (Rooibos) and exotic organic spices are hand-blended to create this naturally caffeine-free herbal chai. Blended in small batches, by hand in Chico, California. Only Organic Ingredients and Fair Trade Organic teas are used to make Chico Chai. 

Learn more about this chai here.

Taster’s Review: 

This Loose Leaf Red Chai Rooibos Blend from Chico Chai is a really pleasing rooibos chai!  What I’m really liking about this is that the base tastes very mild, allowing the spices to come through in a really warm and delicious way.

The first flavor I notice immediately is a licorice-y taste – Anise!  Then notes of cinnamon and a slight peppery note come through.  The other spices are more difficult to pick out … because they’ve melded together to offer a very unified sort of “spiced” taste.  I like that … I like it when a chai just tastes “spicy” without it tasting like too much of one spice or another.  There is a really enjoyable balance here.

Another thing that I’m LOVING about this rooibos chai is this creamy note that I taste just beneath the spices.  The creaminess is something that I can’t ever recall tasting with other rooibos chai blends … and that’s what is setting this apart.  That creamy note gives this an almost “latte” sort of taste without the milk, and it softens the edges of the spices too.

This tastes warm and cozy – like a big, comfortable blanket that keeps you warm when the weather’s cold outside.  It’s the kind of flavor that you want to curl up to in front of a fire.  It tastes sweet and spicy without any sweetener, but as with most other chai blends, I do prefer this with just a little bit of sweetener (I went with organic turbinado sugar!) – sweetener helps bring out the flavor of the spices just a bit, and I like how the sugar and spice create a cup that’s nice.  (OK, a silly little rhyme, but I couldn’t resist it … sorry.)

A really awesome rooibos chai – and that’s coming from someone who is less than enthused about rooibos blends in general.  This is something I’d happily drink daily!

Original Loose Leaf Chai from Chico Chai


Chai Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy:  Chico Chai

Chai Description:

Fair Trade Organic black tea and exotic organic spices are hand-blended to create this spicy, aromatic tea. Blended in small batches, by hand in Chico, California. Only Organic Ingredients and Fair Trade Organic teas are used to make Chico Chai. 

Learn more about this chai here.

Taster’s Review: 

As some of you may remember, I’ve already reviewed the strong brew original chai concentrate from Chico Chai, and I loved it.  But sometimes, I want a cup of spicy tea without the latte … and that’s when a loose leaf tea like this Original Chai from Chico Chai comes in.  This gives me the spicy flavor I’m craving without the heavy creaminess of a latte.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that thick, rich, creamy taste of a chai latte.  It’s yummy … but sometimes I just want spice without the milk.

Of course, you can easily turn this into a latte too by simply brewing it extra strong (add an extra teaspoon or two of the loose leaf to your teapot when you steep it) and then adding steamed milk to the brewed product.  A frothing tool will add that light, creamy top of the latte that you’ll get in a coffee shop (and pay six bucks a pop for!)  Or … if you really want to go traditional, you can prepare this “stovetop” by simmering the spices in a milk/water combination and straining the spices.  That produces a really delicious chai … but it also produces a mess which is why I prefer to make my lattes brewing it strong in water, and then adding steamed milk to the brewed tea.

But … if you’re like me and like to enjoy a good, spicy cup of tea without the latte sometimes … this loose leaf Original Chai from Chico Chai is just the thing.  It’s a really flavorful chai!  Lots of spice to it – including a really nice touch of anise in there!  I love that licorice-y taste! – but I like that I can also taste the rich, malty Assam in this blend too.

I like that the cinnamon does not overpower the cup, I taste the cinnamon, but I also taste the peppery edge from the ginger and black pepper.  And the warmth of the cardamom and I think I even taste a hint of vanilla to this too … nice!

There is a hint of nutty nutmeg flavor in this, and I love it when a chai has nutmeg.  I think it’s one of those very underused spices for chai … something that is often overlooked as a spice but something that adds such a wonderful dimension of flavor that it’s so awesome when I do find a chai that has nutmeg.

I think I should also take a moment to mention the tin that this chai was packaged in.  It’s a double lidded tin, with a tight fitted inner lid that seals in all the spice.  I really found myself appreciating this tin as I was opening it this morning, because as I was opening it, I found myself wondering why I hadn’t yet had my senses overwrought with the aroma of spice.  The inner lid managed to seal in all the spices so that I couldn’t smell them until I got that lid open!  I think that how tea is packaged is something that is often overlooked by some companies, but I like that Chico Chai thought about this when they selected their tins!

This chai has a really nice balance of spices that is deliciously warm without setting my palate on fire.  This makes a perfect cuppa for cold, wet autumn days like this one!   Have I mentioned lately that I’m glad that autumn is finally here?

Mate Chai from Chico Chai

mate-chaiChai Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Mate

Where to Buy:  Chico Chai

Chai Description:

Organic Yerba Mate is blended with fresh-ground spices to create a unique spicy tea.

Blended in small batches, by hand in Chico, California. Only Organic Ingredients and Fair Trade Organic teas are used to make Chico Chai.

Learn more about this chai blend here.

Taster’s Review:

After having such a positive experience with Chico Chai’s Strong Brew Concentrate, I really looked forward to trying some of their loose leaf offerings.  Fortunately, the good people at Chico Chai sent me a “Chico Chai Sampler,” and let me just say I love this little box!  It’s a small box that is just big enough to fit four small tins of tea – one of each of the chai blends that Chico Chai offers.  This is an awesome way to sample each of the loose leaf chai blends from them.  Everything is packaged beautifully … this is the kind of thing that I love getting in the mail!  And it would make an excellent gift for the chai lover on your gift giving list, too.

The first of the loose leaf chai blends that I decided to try was the Mate Chai from Chico Chai, mostly because I really needed that vigorous SHAKE awake that Yerba Mate provides.  I have been feeling sluggish today, like I could easily go back to bed and sleep another couple of hours, but, I’ve got stuff to do!  I can’t nap the day away.

So, it’s Yerba Mate to the rescue!

This has a delightfully spicy fragrance, and what I like best about the aroma of this chai is that no one spice stands out amongst the others in this blend.  I smell notes of all the components, and it smells like a mouth-watering medley of warm spice that evokes thoughts of chilly autumn days (they’re coming!  they’re coming!)

I brewed the tea strong (using a little extra leaf) in near boiling water – I find that when I use boiling water for Yerba Mate, it results in a slightly bitter tasting mate.  Drop the temperature to 195°F and you can brew this herb for ten minutes (or even longer) and I don’t taste any bitterness!  I brewed it extra strong because I wanted a latte.

But, I did try it first without the “latte” … and while it was strong … it is a very flavorful chai!  Lots of peppery spice … this chai is not for the weak!  If you tend to cower at the idea of spicy heat … this chai is too much for you … but for those of you who like your chai to bite you when you take a sip … this is one you need to try!

As a latte, the spices are softened somewhat … that is, they aren’t quite as edgy as they were when I tried it straight up.  But, there is still plenty of heat from this chai when served with a splash of warmed milk.  The ginger and pepper are prominent, and I can feel their warmth develop at the back of my tongue and radiate to the top of my throat.  It warms me so wonderfully … this is just what I need on a chilly day like today!

I like that while this chai seems to focus on the ginger and pepper, I can also taste the cinnamon, cardamom and the nutmeg.  It’s sweet and spicy and earthy … and with the addition of the milk, it’s so nice and creamy too!  It tastes really good served warm but it’s also delicious as it cools.  (An iced chai latte, anyone?)

And the Yerba Mate did in fact help energize and WAKE me up!  This chai gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from me.