Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: David’s Tea
Is winter giving you the shivers? Try this fiery southwest chai. A blend of black tea, chocolate and Ancho and Aleppo chilis, it gives new meaning to the term “hot chocolate.” But despite sweet roasted corn and lily petals, it’s not for the faint of heart. Spicy notes and an extra-hot finish mean you should only drink it if you love to feel the heat – otherwise, you’d better get out of the kitchen.
When I think “chai,” I think masala chai blends which usually consist of the basics: ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. There are sometimes variations to the basics, and sometimes other ingredients are added, but these are the four main ingredients that come to mind when I think chai. Now, granted, chai actually means “tea” so, you can have a plain Ceylon and it would be a chai, but, for me, chai has come to mean a spiced tea.
This tea forces me to re-think my ideas about chai, because there is no cinnamon, ginger, cardamom or cloves here, and yet it is called a chai. And to be honest, even though this is a bit different than what I would expect from a chai, it is really good. REALLY good!
The chocolate is the strongest flavor here, and that’s quite alright with this chocoholic. It tastes sweet and creamy and rich. But what is really nice is how the zesty spice from the chili cuts through some of the sweeter notes of the chocolate, providing a really nice contrast in flavors for the palate to enjoy.
The chili does not hit the palate immediately. The sip starts as a rather smooth-tasting sip, it doesn’t taste really spicy/hot. About mid-sip, the chili comes to life! It starts out as a warm, chili pepper kind of taste, not too hot, but gradually getting warmer. By the time the finish hits, the pepper really kicks in – never getting what I would consider to be too hot, but it is definitely a kick of chili spice. The aftertaste is that of spicy chili pepper, again not too hot, but there is a light, slow burn in the back of the throat.
The black tea seems to come secondary here, and that is a little disappointing, but it is hard to express too much disappointment with a tea that I’m enjoying so much. I love the chocolate and chili flavor here. The black tea is distinguishable, but it isn’t a terribly strong black tea flavor. I would love to see what a stronger, bolder tea leaf might do to this blend of chocolate and chili (perhaps a solid Assam?) As it is, though, I really like this; even without the basic chai spices, even with the lighter tea flavor. The chocolate and chili is so delicious!
NOTE: While writing this review, I noticed that this particular tea is not featured on the David’s Tea website. I suspect that this is because this is a winter/seasonal blend, and I do hope that it will return when winter returns! It’s a wonderfully warming blend!