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Masala

India’s Original Masala Chai from Golden Tips

IndiasOriginalChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Originating from India, Masala Chai or ‘Spiced Tea’ is one of the most popular black tea blends in the world. This ancient traditional recipe is prepared by blending a strong & robust black tea with an array of fresh & aromatic spices. Our signature ‘Masala Chai Spiced Tea’ is symbolic of the original house blend which has been cherished in India for decades now. A combination of Assam CTC & orthodox leaves blended in a varying ratio is taken as the base. The base tea is then blended with exotic and fresh indian spices including crushed cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, long pepper, dry ginger and clove. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m always so excited to try a new chai – one that I’ve not yet tried.  So, I was happy to find this India’s Original Masala Chai from Golden Tips in my stash of teas waiting for review!

The dry leaf is a very fine CTC.  Even the spices are pretty finely chopped or ground, so it would benefit your teacup to give the pouch a good shake before you open it and measure it out.

To brew it, I measured out one bamboo scoop of the tea and then I shook off just a little bit from the scoop.  Since the chop is so fine, you don’t need a whole scoop of tea!  Then I put the tea into the basket of my Kati tumbler and added 12 ounces of boiling water and let it steep for 2 1/2 minutes.  Again, since this is a finely chopped tea, you don’t want to steep it too long.  2 1/2 minutes produced a very flavorful cuppa for me – I wouldn’t recommend steeping it much longer than that otherwise you may wind up with a bitter tasting tea.

This is really good!  The spices are ‘moderately spiced’ – that is to say that it’s not super spicy, but not what I’d call mild either.  I think that if you typically shy away from a chai because it’s too spicy for you, you might find that this chai is to your liking.  It’s warmly spiced without going overboard.

And I like that the spices are really nicely balanced.  I taste cinnamon, clove, cardamom, ginger and pepper, but I don’t notice that any one or two of these trying to overpower the rest.  It’s warm and zesty, like a delicious spice cake.  All the spices are present and accounted for but they don’t overwhelm the cup or the flavor of the black tea.

And the black tea is the star of this cup.  That doesn’t happen too often in a chai.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good, spicy chai!  But I also like other ‘chai’ blends that offer a balance of flavors like this one has achieved.

This tea offers a robust, full-flavored taste of black tea.  The tea is an Assam tea so I get a strong malty character that I like.  It’s rich and smooth.  Not too astringent and not bitter (although I suspect it could be bitter if I had oversteeped it!)

And this tea offers a pleasant flavor of spices that tingle on the palate.  The flavor of the spices builds, but it builds in a really pleasant way.  I haven’t felt like “oh, that’s spicy!” Instead, it’s more like … nice!  Warm!  Zesty!  Yum!

A really nice chai!

Darjeeling Masala Chai from Teabox

DarjeelingMasalaChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Teabox

Tea Description:

An exclusive in house creation by our master blenders. For this blend, lemon grass and fennel are mixed with aromatic Darjeeling black tea to create a medley of flavors.  

The citrusy perfume emitted by the lemon grass is quite heady and gives a fresh twist to the chai. A must try for all chai lovers.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Darjeeling Masala Chai from Teabox is another ‘questionable’ use of the word “chai” – yes, I know that chai means tea (and I know that I’ve said that on more than one occasion too!) but we’ve come to embrace the word “chai” as a spiced tea – and those spices are generally a combination of the usual spices:  cinnamon, ginger, cloves and cardamom – sometimes one or more of these is omitted and other spices like pepper or nutmeg are added.

This “chai” has none of the usual spices and instead has fennel seed and lemon grass.  But what really piqued my interest about this particular chai is not the substitution of spices but the fact that this is a Darjeeling base!  I can’t recall having tried a chai with a Darjeeling base before.  That doesn’t mean that I haven’t, just that I can’t recall.

So, I was certainly interested in trying this chai.  And while it isn’t at all what most might think of when they think “chai” – this is really quite good.  I may call into question the liberal use of the word chai by Teabox, but this is still a really tasty tea!

This isn’t really a ‘spicy’ tea, but it does have some warm notes from the fennel.  The fennel is both sweet and gently ‘spiced’ with notes of licorice.  It adds a certain comforting warmth to the cup.  The lemon grass adds a hint of bright, citrus-y flavor to the cup and a light creaminess to the Darjeeling which has a crisp flavor.

It’s a lighter bodied tea, it would make a nice afternoon tea.  I like the fennel and lemon grass with the Darjeeling, they certainly add some interest to the woodsy, floral tones of the Darjeeling base.

Overall, a very interesting tea.  I don’t know that I’d call it a chai, but I suppose it’s alright if Teabox does.  I enjoyed it, regardless!

Chocolate Marshmallow Spicy Chai from 52Teas

Chocolate-Marshmallow-Spicy-Chai

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Zoomdweebies

Tea Description:

Following the success of our Spicier Chai, one of our faithful customers requested a version with chocolate and marshmallow.  How could we not do that?

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  I’m loving this Chocolate Marshmallow Spicy Chai from 52Teas.  It’s the perfect tea to enjoy on a cold, wet afternoon!

If you read this blog regularly, you’re probably well aware by this point that I’m trying to raise funds so that I can take over 52Teas.  And if you aren’t yet aware of this, please check out my Kickstarter campaign by clicking right here.  (Remember, every little bit helps!)

Anyway, after taking my first sip of this tea, my immediate thought was, “oh yeah, I have to reblend this one!”  In fact, I just finished posting a comment on the campaign, stating that I nominate this for a reblend for the next vote!

Every time we reach another $2,000 in pledges, we vote on a new reblend.  So far, we’ve reached on $2000 in pledges and the winner of that vote was the Raspberry Cream Cheese Danish Honeybush.  If you want to get in on the next vote, you need to contribute and help me reach my goal!

So, yes, I guess you could say that I like this tea.  I like it a lot!

The black tea base is rich and flavorful.  That in itself is quite an accomplishment because the spices are spicy and the chocolate and marshmallow are both strong components to this cup too.  To be able to be tasted beyond the bold spices and the strong flavors, that’s impressive to me.

I also appreciate that the black tea isn’t astringent or bitter.  It’s smooth and robust, but not aggressively so.  It stands strong amid the other strong flavor profiles in this cup without having to be too harsh tasting.

The spices are very reminiscent of the Spicier Chai blend that 52Teas introduced a few weeks back.  And there’s a good reason for that.  It would seem that the Spicier Chai was the inspiration behind the request for a Chocolate Marshmallow version.  Genius.  It sounds like something I’d think of.  I didn’t.  But, whoever did think of it, you’re a genius.

The spices are spicy!  Peppery!  Zesty and invigorating!  It’s a good, strong, BOLDLY spiced chai.  It not only warms you from the inside out but it’ll feel a little like someone started a tiny fire in the back of your throat.  Yeah, it burns, but it burns SO good!

And then you have chocolate and marshmallow!  I’m usually quick to say that more chocolate is better, but I really am enjoying the level of chocolate in this blend.  It’s not SUPER chocolate-y but I think that more chocolate might have interfered with the spices a little bit and I like the balance as it is right now.  Spicy and chocolate-y deliciousness.

And the marshmallow is light and fluffy.

What this tastes a bit like is that someone brewed up a cup of that Spicier Chai, and then added a scoop of hot cocoa powder to it and stirred it up, and then topped it with a marshmallow that is now melted into the beverage, making it creamy and sweet and delicious.

So, yeah … totally yum.  Please help me save 52Teas so that I can reblend this one!!!

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.

Chai Tea from Tealated

chai_teaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tealated

Tea Description:

This spicy Chai delights the senses with its blend of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves  with organic Assam tea. Try it with milk and sugar for a culinary treat!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yeah!  I’m liking this chai!

I worried that I might have oversteeped it, because I absent-mindedly set the timer for 3 minutes without taking into consideration that this is a) an Assam and b) a CTC Assam at that!

But I’m not experiencing any bitterness.  I don’t know if that’s because the spices are overpowering any bitter tones or if it’s because this Assam is a bit more forgiving than others that I’ve had.  I just know that I’m tasting a really enjoyable cup of Chai that isn’t bitter.  It’s smooth, rich and flavorful and jam-packed with masala spice – just the way I like my chai blends to be!

I like that this is warm and zesty – and yeah, I’d even go so far as to say it’s spicy!  But it isn’t a ‘too much’ kind of spicy.  It’s just right.  This is the spice levels that I prefer my chai blends to have.  I like a good bit of spice to the cup but I don’t want it to be so overwhelmed with spice that I can’t taste that rich, delicious black tea base.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed many a chai that didn’t meet these specifications.  But as far as the kind of chai that I would go back to … this is the kind of chai that I’d be happy to drink again and again.

There’s even the faintest hint of creaminess to the cup which I’m not quite sure where it comes from except that perhaps it’s from the malty notes of the Assam – but it tastes really good served without the dairy.  It’s certainly not “latte” like without the dairy, but there is enough of a creamy hint to it that I find enjoyable enough without the dairy.

I think I might serve this to my husband when he gets home.  He has recently ‘discovered’ the joy of chai and I think he’ll really enjoy this one.