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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!

Armando’s Original Blend Coffee Leaf Tea from Wize Monkey

WizeMonkeyCoffeeLeafTeaTea Description:

Leaf Type:  Coffee Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Coffee leaf tea has more antioxidants than green tea and has very little caffeine. It has a smooth flavour without bitterness or dry aftertaste like regular teas.

Learn more about Wize Monkey here.

Support Wize Monkey’s Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign here.

Taster’s Review:

I was both intrigued and nervous about this product.  I have mentioned more than once the issues that I’ve experienced with coffee.  I used to drink a cup of coffee every morning and by 11 am, I was feeling quite nauseous.  So, I worried that since this product comes from the same plant as the beans that caused that late morning yucky sick feeling, I was a little concerned as this tea brewed that what I was steeping was a cup of nausea.

But I decided to be brave and try it.  And keep my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be feeling horrid a few hours later.

The sample that I was sent from Wize Monkey came in a DIY loose leaf teabag so I decided to go ahead and steep it using the teabag.  I put the teabag into a teacup and heated freshly filtered water to 195°F which is my “go-to” temperature for “herbal” teas and since this is not technically a tea leaf, I thought, eh … I’ll see what happens at 195°F.  I steeped leaves for 4 minutes.

The aroma is … different.  I’m trying to come up with a comparable scent so you can get an idea of what I’m smelling.  It smells earthy, similar to the earthiness you’d detect if you had brewed a cup of guayusa or yerba mate.  It smells kind of grassy.  Like a mossy, damp earth with notes of dried hay.

The flavor is a little reminiscent of guayusa, only a little more herbaceous.  Guayusa tastes a little more like coffee to me only not as bitter as a cup of joe.  This on the other hand does have some a touch of bitterness to it, at least in the earliest sips.  I find that as I continue to sip, the bitter tone sort of dissipates, and I find that I enjoy it the more I drink it.

It has a definite herb-y sort of flavor that reminds me a bit of bay leaf.  There is a light honey note to it too, and I like that this honey note develops as I continue to sip.  Again … the more I drink this, the more I like it.

This product as been compared to black tea in flavor, but, I am not getting that.  It has a similar texture as a black tea but not so much the flavor.  I find that there is a certain invigorating quality to it even though the caffeine content is supposed to be about the same as decaffeinated coffee.

It’s a tasty ‘tea’.  Different from anything that I’ve tasted, but it is vaguely reminiscent of guayusa.  I enjoyed my sample of this coffee leaf tea and I’d definitely be interested in some blends using coffee leaf.  Right off the top of my head, I think that this would taste good with cacao shells (a chocolate-y experience!) or with peppermint.  Or perhaps a combination of both.  And with the honey-like flavors, I think it would also taste awesome as the base of a masala spice blend – coffee leaf chai!


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Original Herbal Chai Rooibos Blend from Simple Loose Leaf

HerbalChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tea Description:

Chai is a type of tea typically served in India with milk and sugar. Our Herbal Chai is comprised of rooibos herbal tea along with a combination of ginger root, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and black peppercorn. This herbal version offers a remarkable authentic chai flavor while remaining naturally caffeine-free.

Ingredients:  South African Rooibos, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ginger Root, Cloves, Black Peppercorn

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club subscription program here.

Receive 25% savings on the Selection Club from Simple Loose Leaf.  Just type in SISTERSELECTION25 in the coupon field and save 25%!  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.

Taster’s Review:

This Herbal Chai from Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club Sampler Box is a very finely ground rooibos!  The rooibos leaves are chopped finer than I’ve typically seen in most rooibos blends.  It’s almost like a fine, “instant” powder … almost, but not quite.  This still needs to be steeped.

So I steeped it using a T-Sac.  I don’t usually reach for a T-Sac when I’m brewing tea, but with a tea/tisane that is as finely ground as this is, I usually choose a T-Sac to steep the tea because I don’t like loose, floating leaves in my brewed tea.  I’m not in to floaters.

Additional parameters used to brew this tisane: with freshly filtered water heated to 195°F and 1 tsp. of Herbal Chai in the T-Sac, I steeped the tea for 10 minutes.  Because this is a finer chopped chai, you don’t want to use a little extra leaf – as I often do with chai because I want a little stronger flavor with all the spices that are in the blend – but with this blend, the fine chop means that there is a lot of surface area and this is going to get plenty strong with the 1 tsp of leaf to 12 ounces of water ratio.

The aroma of both the dry leaf and the brewed tea is so delightfully spicy.  It reminds me of the smell I would experience when I visit the spice shop in Portland.  Notes of cinnamon, clove and pepper are prominent.  I can also smell the cardamom and ginger.

Mmm!  This is a perfect tisane to send out for September.  As the air becomes crisp and the weather turns cooler for the coming season (Autumn!) this tea serves me as a reminder of what is to come.  As I’ve said many times before, fall is my favorite season of the year.  And … yes … the reason is TEA!  Tea just tastes better hot.  Yeah, there are some teas that taste better iced, but for the most part, I find that teas just taste better when they’re served hot and I find that hot tea tastes best when the weather is chilly.

And my favorite kinds of teas to sip during my favorite season of the year are chai blends like this because the warm spices are just so cozy and comforting!  This is a perfect autumnal blend!

The finer chop on this blend makes for a very strong tasting chai, so don’t go overboard when you’re measuring out the leaf!  You might want to even use a little less leaf because it does get very strong.

The spices are robust.  The clove and ginger and pepper are the strongest flavors that I’m tasting.  After these flavors are recognized by my palate, then I begin to pick up on the cinnamon and cardamom.  The rooibos doesn’t offer a strong flavor to the cup, it’s more like a slightly sweet, nutty background flavor that is quite complimentary to the earthy notes of the spices.

I’ve got to tell you that when I saw that this is a rooibos chai, my thoughts were “Oh, another rooibos chai.”  I wasn’t all that thrilled with the prospect.  But this is one of the better tasting rooibos chai tisanes that I’ve tasted in some time.  The finer ground on the blend makes for a deliciously pungent, spicy chai and that’s just fine with me!

This tastes great with a dollop of honey or a half a teaspoon of sugar.  I find that the sweetener accents the spices in a chai (sugar and spice makes a chai taste real nice).  Add a splash of milk or cream for a tasty latte … it’s a wonderful, caffeine-free treat to drink any time of day.

Original Cacao Tea from Tisano

tisanochocolateTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane (I wasn’t sure how I should categorize this!)

Where to Buy:  Tisano

Tisane Description:

Tisano CACAO TEA is an award winning herbal chocolate tea. We don’t use artificial flavorings – just 100% of world’s best organic cacao – creating a rich, natural and one-of-a-kind chocolate experience. Tisano is the innovator behind real chocolate infusions – join our adventure.

This healthy addiction is rich in antioxidants and has zero fat or calories. Cacao Tea contains Theobromine, a natural mood booster and with less caffeine than green tea or decaf coffee it is an ideal healthy alternative. Give it a try and unlock the wisdom of cacao, the original fruit of the gods.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

One word is all that is needed to really describe the flavor of this tea:  CHOCOLATE!  Yes, I said chocolate.

I previously reviewed this tisane on another tea review site – unfortunately, the archives are not available at this time (I don’t know if this is a permanent situation or not!) so I can’t route you there with a link.  But, even though I’ve already tried this tisane, it doesn’t mean that I’m not willing and eager to sample it again and write more about it.  I mean, hey, we’re talking CHOCOLATE here!  Well, cacao shells.  But once they’re brewed, they taste like a great big mug of sweet, sinful, indulgent hot chocolate.

The consistency of this drink is a little thinner than my “usual” hot cocoa because I like to make my hot chocolate with hot milk rather than water.  But, this has all the rich, chocolate-y flavor of a hot cocoa.  In fact, I prefer the flavor of this to a hot cocoa because it is more like the dark chocolate that I prefer.  I get that dark, bittersweet flavor of dark chocolate that I love and there is a wonderful contrast between the bitter and the sweet.

If you prefer a creamier or (milkier) chocolate, you can add a splash of milk or cream to the cup.  I would recommend brewing this a little stronger if you plan to go latte though so that you get a stronger impact from the chocolate.  Because let’s face it, if you’re going to be drinking a product that is 100% cacao shells, you’re looking for some decadent chocolate flavor!

And that’s exactly what Tisano delivers.  This product is 100% cacao shells – nothing else! – and it delivers a rich, delicious chocolate-y flavor that’s sure to please even the most particular of chocoholics out there.

There are few things out there that I love more than chocolate.  And this Cacao Tea from Tisano makes me a very happy chocolate lover.

Organic Original Tulsi from Tea of Life

TulsiLemongrassGingerTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Tulsi

Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.

Tisane Description:

Tulsi or Holy basil is considered a medicinal plant with different parts of the plant possessing various different medicinal properties. Tulsi is said to be a remedy for digestive problems, acidity and other digestive disorders and help reduce weight as well.

Ingredients:  Organic Tulsi Leaf

Taster’s Review:

I think that I prefer Tulsi when it’s part of a blend (with other ingredients) than when it’s going solo like it is with this Organic Original Tulsi from Tea of Life.  This tulsi has a bit too much of a medicinal/herbaceous flavor for my liking and I find myself wishing that there was something else to perk up the beverage a bit.

That’s not to say that it tastes bad.  It doesn’t.  It has a basil like flavor, with peppery notes and a whisper of minty like background notes.  It’s a pleasant enough, savory tasting cuppa.  But, really, it’s just kind of … boring.  Perhaps I’ve been spoiled and been treated to quite a few flavored blends with Tulsi leaf, andso I feel like this tisane is falling a little flat in comparison.

Some good points:  It is a nice, gentle drink with a pleasing touch of spice, a really nice beverage to enjoy after meals.  I find that it has a soothing, settling quality to it especially after a very filling meal (like spaghetti!)  My tummy feels calmer now after drinking it than it did before I started sipping.  Another positive:  I like that this is organic.

Not a bad drink, but, not my favorite from those that I’ve tried from Tea of Life, either.  I do like that it’s an organic tisane, and I appreciate the health benefits that Tulsi offers, although as I’ve said on other occasions, I drink teas and tisanes not because they’re good for me, but because I enjoy the taste.  This is alright, but probably not something I’d want to drink often.