Kolkata Street Chai Tea from Teabox

KolkataStreetChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teabox

Tea Description:

This particular blend has been created using rich Assam tea and exotic Indian spices, including saffron, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger to make an extraordinary cup of chai. The flavor is virile and aroma heady. Savor a cup of this tea inspired by the city of joy – Kolkata.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The photo shows a few saffron threads in the Kolkata Street Chai Tea from Teabox, but I didn’t see that many when I measured out the tea into the basket of my Kati tumbler.  In fact, I only saw one tiny piece of what might have been a saffron thread when I measured out my heaping bamboo scoop.  There could have been more in there, I could have missed a small piece or two, but the picture shows numerous long threads of saffron.  In reality, what I have is a fraction of a fraction of one thread.

I do realize that saffron is one of the most expensive spices out there (if not the most expensive) and to add it so liberally to a tea blend would be very costly.  Given that they’re selling this blend for just under $10 for 100 grams of the tea, I can see why they need to be thrifty with the saffron threads, but don’t mislead the customers by showing a photograph with many saffron threads when the blend contains less than a fraction of that.

All that aside, this is a very tasty chai.  The CTC Assam is very rich and malty.  It’s somewhat astringent, but not overly so.  It’s not bitter although I do get some bitterness from the saffron.  I steeped the tea in near boiling water as per the suggested parameters on the website, and steeped it for only 3 minutes rather than the suggested 4 minutes.  The black tea is full flavored and satisfying.  It’s a good base for the spices.

I like the combination of spices here.  Yes, I can taste the saffron (even a small amount IS effective).  As I mentioned before, I get a slight bitter note from the saffron as well as a hint of honey like flavor from it.  The honey-esque notes are a wonderful complement to the warm notes of cardamom and ginger, and I love the nutty flavor of the nutmeg in this.

I’m usually quite happy when I find a chai with nutmeg in the blend and of the many different chai blends that I’ve tasted over the years, I must say that this one has the most obvious nutmeg flavor to it!  Quite a delight to taste!

I really enjoyed this tea despite my misgivings about the misleading photograph.  The chai blend is very flavorful and I do recommend it.  But I also would recommend to Teabox that they represent their tea more truthfully in the photograph.  If someone buys this based on what they’re seeing in the photograph, they’re going to be disappointed when they open the package to find significantly less saffron than the photo suggests.

Baker Street Afternoon Blend from Upton Tea Imports

BakerStreetBlendTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

A bit of Lapsang Souchong is blended with Keemun and Darjeeling, yielding a mildly smoky tea. Perfect for an afternoon uplift. Another special (whole-leaf) blend from our London source of fine teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

As I’ve confessed many times, I’m not a big fan of Lapsang Souchong so when I receive a blend with Lapsang Souchong in it, I’m a little timid.  I don’t hate Lapsang Souchong, but there are so many other teas that I’d rather be drinking.  The overwhelmingly smoky note is just … well, it’s overwhelming.

When I first opened the pouch, I noticed the smoky notes right away.  But I was happy to find that the smoke is not an overbearing presence in either the dry leaf or in the brewed tea.  It’s there – it’s definitely there! – but it doesn’t overpower the blend.

This Baker Street Afternoon Blend from Upton Tea Imports is actually quite nice.  The smoky notes are not overwhelming.  It is mildly smoky and I’m enjoying the mild level of smoke here.  It’s allowing me to enjoy the complexity of the tea.

And that’s important because there are three teas in this blend:  Lapsang Souchong, Darjeeling and Keemun.  I like that I can taste the fruity notes of the Darjeeling and Keemun.  I like the way these two teas create a lovely wine-like flavor and the smokiness of the Lapsang adds a really interesting dimension to that wine-like quality.

To brew this blend, I used my Kati Tumbler.  I heated the water to 205°F.  I added 1 bamboo scoop of the tea blend to my tumbler infuser basket and I poured the hot water over the leaves.  I let this tea steep for 15 seconds and then I strained off the leaves and discarded the liquid.  (Yes, I did a rinse.  There is Lapsang Souchong in this blend and I find that Lapsang Souchong – even when in blends – is much better tasting to my palate when I do a rinse.)  Then I replaced the basket and refilled the tumbler with 205°F water and steeped it for 3 minutes.

Overall, a very enjoyable cup of tea.  It’s called an “Afternoon” tea and it has a medium to full body to it, making it a nice choice for afternoon sipping, especially on a cooler afternoon like this.  (I’m so happy that autumn appears to have finally arrived!  I actually wore a sweater today!)  It’s warm and cozy and it has a certain comforting element to it too.  It’s a little more robust than a typical afternoon cup but that edge can be softened by the addition of milk and honey (if you like it in your tea), or you can save this for the afternoons when you need a little more than a gentle pick me up!

Leadenhall Street Breakfast Blend from Upton Tea Imports


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

A tribute to the famous London tea auctions, our Leadenhall Street Breakfast Blend is a blend of two classic British teas: a brisk Ceylon and a thick, malty Assam. The result is a flavorful mixture which lends itself to the addition of milk.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Leadenhall Street Breakfast Blend from Upton Tea Imports is a deliciously robust blend of teas that is perfect for that all-important first cup of the day.

Combining Assam and Ceylon is not a new idea, I’ve had quite a few “breakfast blends” that utilize these two teas.  The two seem to work together quite well.  The Assam brings its rich, bold flavor to the cup while the Ceylon offers a bright, even-toned quality to the tea.   The result is a very satisfying cup of tea that is strong enough to get you going in the morning .. but also something that would work nicely as a mid-day pick-me-up.

I notice some light fruit notes to this cup, as well as some distant floral tones.  The Assam has a really rich, comforting character … deliciously sweet and malty.

There is a fair amount of astringency to this cup, but, I’m not tasting any bitterness and that’s a definite plus.  I would not recommend oversteeping this tea though, because I can’t say it wouldn’t be bitter if it were left to steep too long.  I steeped this in boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes in my Breville One-Touch, and I’m very happy with the result.  I drank mine without any additions, and found it to be just right for my morning cuppa – edgy but not too edgy.  If you want to soften that edge, you can add a bit of sweetener and/or a splash of milk or cream.  This would make an excellent latte … but I really enjoyed it straight up!

Product Review: Spicy Ginger Chai Concentrate from Third Street Chai

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

For more information, visit:  Third Street Chai

Product Description:

A generously spiced blend of fine black tea, fiery ginger, and freshly-milled aromatic spices.

Ingredients:  Filtered Water, Evaporated Cane Juice, Fair Trade Certified Organic Black Tea, Organic Cardamom, Organic Clove, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Ginger, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Fennel, Organic Nutmeg, Citric Acid.

Taster’s Review:

I don’t usually go for chai concentrates.  I don’t stop at a lot of coffee shops (although here in the Pacific Northwest, there seems to be at least one on every street corner) and order chai lattes that are made from those concentrates.  The reason is that I find that they don’t really taste very much like tea.  They are more like some sort of sweet (sometimes sickeningly sweet), spicy, milky beverage that is alright, but not something I’d want to drink on a regular basis.  On average, I’d say I have one of those coffee shop chai lattes about three times a year.

But… if I found a local coffee shop that used THIS chai concentrate, I might visit more often!  This is really good.  I prepared it according to package directions, using a ratio of 1 part concentrate to 1 part milk, put it into a mug and then zap it in the microwave for a minute or two.

The results are delightful.  Although it is sweetened – it is sweetened just right for me.  It is not so sweet that the sweetener overpowers the flavor of the black tea and the spices.  And neither does the milk.

I can taste the strong black tea and the spices – and if the name of this particular variety is any indication to you, I especially taste the ginger.  It is peppery but not over-the-top spicy.  It warms me up without making me feel like I need something to offset the hot spice.  Just enough zing without making my mouth feel like I should call the fire department!

This is really delicious!