Product Review: Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte Mix from Trader Joe’s

pumpkin-spice-chaiProduct Information:

Based on the traditional Indian drink masala chai (mixed-spice tea), Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Chai starts with a chai tea blend that’s a combination of honey, vanilla, and black tea, heightened by a mélange of spices like cinnamon, anise, clove, cardamom, and ginger. In honor of Pumpkin Season, in addition to the traditional chai spices, Pumpkin Spice Chai is accentuated by pumpkin pie spices and real pumpkin. Like pumpkin pie, you can enjoy Pumpkin Spice Chai hot or cold.  Unlike pumpkin pie, Pumpkin Spice Chai is drinkable, and ready in moments—you just add (hot) water and enjoy! 

Where to Buy:  your local Trader Joe’s

Taster’s Review:  

You’ll be seeing a few different reviews for a few different pumpkin flavored chai blends on this blog over the next week or so … what can I say?  It’s that time of year!

I just returned home from Trader Joe’s and I think that they had a pumpkin explosion in their kitchens (or wherever it is that they make all their food) because there is pumpkin EVERYTHING in the place.  They had pumpkin waffles, pumpkin scones, pumpkin butter, pumpkin macarons, pumpkin bars and pumpkin soup just to name a few things.  They even had pumpkin ravioli.  Yep, I bought some of that too.

They also had a few pumpkin tea selections including a pumpkin rooibos blend and this product:  Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte Mix.  And it is mmmmm!

I don’t usually go all crazy for chai tea latte mixes like this because they tend to be more sugar than they are tea and I like to decide how much milk and sugar I’ll be putting in a tea (if I decide to put any in it at all).  But, something about this tin of Pumpkin Spice Chai called to me and before I could say no and walk away, the tin was in my basket.

And I am really happy to say that while this is a sweet drink, the sweetness in this works.  It doesn’t taste too sweet (then again, I do admittedly have a sweet tooth).  This is on the sweeter side – I rarely sweeten my teas although I do usually sweeten my chai just a little bit because I think that a little bit of sweetener enhances the spices.  But even though it is on the sweeter side, the spices offset some of the sweet notes and there is a nice balance between spices and sweet.

Best of all, though, is that I can taste PUMPKIN in this.  It seems that all too often when I see a tea with the words “Pumpkin Spice” it turns out to be just the spices (as in pumpkin pie spice) and no pumpkin flavor.  This has pumpkin!

Hooray for Trader Joe’s pumpkin harvest!

The spices are robust but not what I’d call “spicy.”  It’s a well-rounded taste of warm spices.  I can taste the ginger but not so much that it’s “biting” me.  I can taste the cinnamon, clove and cardamom.  They’re warm and comforting.  I taste just a hint of licorice-y sweetness from the anise.  If there is a scale on “spiciness” of a chai, this would rate maybe one measurement below medium.  It’s spicier than “mild” but it’s not quite medium.

Kind of like a pumpkin pie.

The black tea is almost hidden here, though, and that’s my one big complaint about this.  I think that the next time I make some of this, I might brew up some black tea (perhaps an Assam) and mix that with this so that it amplifies the black tea.

It’s tasty as it is, of course, but, I would like more tea flavor.  Hey, I’m a tea freak, remember?

And one thing that really stands out to me with this product is that the “latte” part isn’t overwhelming the rest of the flavors.  This doesn’t taste like too heavy a latte.  I find that to be true with a lot of the chai concentrates that you can find on the grocery store shelves.  Those tend to be all sugar and milk and very little actual chai.  I appreciate that this has some flavor and the sweetener and milk are accentuating those flavors rather than hiding them.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Vanilla Chai Scones Mix from Sticky Fingers Bakeries

scone mixWhere to Buy:  Sticky Fingers Bakeries

Product Description:

A lightly sweet scone bursting with fragrant spices like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Perfect with tea.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed a scones mix, and the reason why is that it’s been a while since I’ve made scones!  And it really should not have been so long since I’ve made scones!  My daughter loves them, I love them … it’s a perfect treat for the both of us.

Sticky Fingers Bakeries makes some of my favorite scones mix, and I really enjoyed this Vanilla Chai flavored scones mix!  As I’ve said before, what I love so much about this scones mix is that it’s so easy to prepare!  Just add water and mix, and then either roll out and cut into wedges, or just drop by large, rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheet.  It really is that simple.

Instead of using water when I prepared this mix, I used milk.  I find that the flavor is just a little bit richer, and I like that.  It’s still really delicious prepared with water, but the milk just adds a little more richness to the scones.

The scones come out fluffy and a little moist.  They aren’t overly dry or too dense.  The scones made with this vanilla chai mix were really yummy.  The spice level was delicious – I could taste notes of ginger, cinnamon and I could even taste a hint of tea in the flavor.  I didn’t get a whole lot of vanilla flavor though.

The spices were on the mild side, though, this didn’t taste like a spice cookie or gingerbread.  It tasted like a biscuit with spice accents.  Definitely enjoyable.  Really good with honey butter.  I just softened some butter and mixed in some honey.  Most honey butter recipes that I’ve seen also call for some orange zest, but, I didn’t have an orange on hand, so I just grabbed some honey and some room temperature butter, and it came out delicious.  Add the honey gradually and taste it as you add it … you can always add a little more honey but you can’t take it out once it’s in there!

A tasty tea time treat!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Tiger Spice Chai Mix from David Rio

davidrioProduct Information:

Where to Buy:  David Rio

Product Description:

David Rio’s signature and award winning chai is a rich and creamy mixture of black tea and premium spices including cinnamon, cardamom and clove. A percentage of profits from the sale of ALL David Rio Tiger Spice Chai® will be donated to the International Fund for Animal Welfare ( For more info, visit ourAnimal Welfare page.

Learn more about this instant chai mix here.

I received a packet of this instant chai mix in my January Love with Food box.

Taster’s Review:

In addition to my tea addiction … I also consider myself a bit of a foodie, and I enjoy receiving a couple of “food tasting boxes” every month.  I subscribe to a couple of them, including Love with Food.  Love with Food is a great company that every month, sends out boxes that are filled with little samples of food items.  And for every box sent, Love with Food donates a meal to a hungry child.  I like that.

In January, I received a package of this Tiger Spice Chai Mix from David Rio. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried the Tiger Spice Chai Mix from David Rio … I had the opportunity to try their products years ago, after being introduced to them through a hot beverage convention that I attended back when I was still self-employed as a tea vendor.  I enjoyed it back then, and I’m enjoying it now.

It has a creamy, sweet-spiced taste. It is … in my opinion, too sweet.  I’d rather be able to sweeten it myself than to have all that sugar added to my chai, but, as a once in a while treat for myself, I think I can handle the occasional sweet drink.  And since this is the first time I’ve had this chai in … probably six or seven years, I’d say that’s once in quite a while!

And since that last time that I tried this chai … I can say that my taste buds have really come a long way.  I used to really LOVE this stuff.  It’s still … OK … but, it’s not all that I thought it once was.  The black tea is quite obscured by the sugar and the creamer used in the mix.  The spices are not very spicy … they’re pretty mellow in comparison to other chai blends I’ve had recently, and a bit more mellow than I would like it to be.

It’s drinkable, certainly, but not something that I would want to drink on a regular basis, and as it is pumped up with a lot of sugar and corn syrup solids, it’s probably better that way.  I enjoyed it, but, certainly not as much as I would have enjoyed a chai that I had more control over – that I could decide how much sweetener (if any) I would add, and how much milk/cream/creamer I would add, if any.

That said, I think it’s commendable that David Rio is committed to Animal Welfare.  You can read more about that here.


Traditional Marsala Chai from Blue Lotus Chai

Chai Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Blue Lotus Chai

Chai Description:

With its deep and truly authentic flavor and amazing ease of preparation, our flagship product has become part of the daily rhythm of many homes. Tasting is believing!

Learn more about this chai here.

Taster’s Review:

I am totally and completely in LOVE with this chai!  There have been a few chai products that I’ve felt this way for, but, I think that this one may just replace them as my favorite, or at the very least, be a contender for that spot.

This is amazing.  I love it not just because it tastes amazing, but also because it’s a local product and I love supporting my local community.  But, I think I’d be head over heels for this even if it wasn’t local.  Because it is really good.

It is a concentrated spiced powder, so, it’s very much like some of the instant chai products that are out there.  But this differs in a couple of ways.  First, there’s no milk products in the mix, so if you want to control the amount of milk that goes in to your chai – or the type of milk that goes in to your chai – you can do that.  Second, there is no sweetener in this chai, so you can decide if you want it sweet (or not!) and what kind of sweetener you want to use.  I love it for these reasons alone, because I find that so many of the chai preparations out there tend to be overly sweetened and I like being able to have the freedom to choose how much milk I want … sometimes those other prepared chai mixes have too much milk product in them and they end up tasting too creamy for my liking.

I mean, I like a decadent, creamy beverage, but, I don’t like it to be so heavily laden with cream that I feel like I need to scrape the residue off my tongue, you know?  I like that this product offers me the freedom to choose just how much milk goes in to my chai latte!

The first time I prepared this, I prepared it according to the suggested preparation instructions, which suggests 4 oz. of boiling water, 1 rounded scoop of chai powder (each package comes with the most adorable little bamboo scoop that measures out 1/4 teaspoon of chai powder), and 4 oz. of milk.  Add sweetener of choice if desired (I added about 1/4 teaspoon of turbinado sugar).  After you stir to combine the ingredients, heat it up a bit (to replace the heat taken by the chill of the milk), and enjoy.  It was delicious, but I found that I wanted the flavors to be a little stronger, so I added another half a scoop – yet another reason I love this chai, I can add more to the cup if I want to! – and found the beverage to be perfect chai JOY!

The cup was rich, spicy, and creamy.  Decadent!  I can taste the richness and hint of malty notes from the black tea, and I love that I can taste the nutmeg here!  This chai blend has all the “usual” suspects:  cinnamon, clove, cardamom and ginger … plus some black pepper to spice it up (which I can taste too!) and then the aforementioned nutmeg.  It is spicy but not overwhelmingly so.  Blue Lotus Chai has achieved a really nice balance.  (However, if they’re looking for suggestions for blend #4, might I suggest one with Anise and/or fennel?  I do love a licorice note in my chai!)

I love this chai latte that I made thanks to the ease of Blue Lotus Chai!  This blend has everything I want from a chai latte, and I loved that I could very easily customize it to make it that way.  You can’t get that from your local coffee shop!  This is the way chai SHOULD be!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Saffron Chai Tea Mix from Jaipur Avenue

Product Information:

Product:  black tea – instant chai tea mix

Where to Buy:  Jaipur Avenue

Product Description:

An escapade into sensuous notes, floral fragrances and romantic sweetness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh my goodness!  This is so good!

Having already tried Jaipur Avenue’s other chai blends, I knew I was in for a treat with this one, but I really wasn’t prepared for what the saffron would add to the mix.  Of the five mixes that I’ve tasted … this one is definitely my favorite!

Unlike the Ginger Chai Mix or even the Cardamom, which had a spicier profile, this Saffron Chai Mix is more subdued, but in a very enchanting way.  The flavor is smoother and well-rounded, as the saffron brings a gratifying sweetness to the cup that enhances the flavors without amplifying the spicy tones.  It brings out the more exotic and savory side of the spices in this blend, giving the overall cup a very indulgent, satisfying flavor.

Like the other chai mixes from Jaipur Avenue, this is incredibly rich and creamy.  It is indeed sweet, and while I don’t think I could drink more than one of these at a time, I don’t find the one cup to be too overwhelmingly sweet.  Instead, it has a really excellent balance between sweet and spice, with a pleasing earthiness that grounds the cup so that it doesn’t become too confectionery.

I have really enjoyed these chai mixes from Jaipur Avenue.  I like them because not only are they delicious but they are also very easy to make:  just add hot water and stir!  I used my frothing tool which gave it a light froth on top, but if you don’t have a frothing tool, this still tastes wonderful without the froth.  This mix gives you the tasty results of a chai that’s been simmered in milk on the stovetop without all the mess, and that’s a win-win in my book!