Leaf Type: Yerba Mate
Where to Buy: Chico Chai
Organic Yerba Mate is blended with fresh-ground spices to create a unique spicy tea.
Blended in small batches, by hand in Chico, California. Only Organic Ingredients and Fair Trade Organic teas are used to make Chico Chai.
Learn more about this chai blend here.
After having such a positive experience with Chico Chai’s Strong Brew Concentrate, I really looked forward to trying some of their loose leaf offerings. Fortunately, the good people at Chico Chai sent me a “Chico Chai Sampler,” and let me just say I love this little box! It’s a small box that is just big enough to fit four small tins of tea – one of each of the chai blends that Chico Chai offers. This is an awesome way to sample each of the loose leaf chai blends from them. Everything is packaged beautifully … this is the kind of thing that I love getting in the mail! And it would make an excellent gift for the chai lover on your gift giving list, too.
The first of the loose leaf chai blends that I decided to try was the Mate Chai from Chico Chai, mostly because I really needed that vigorous SHAKE awake that Yerba Mate provides. I have been feeling sluggish today, like I could easily go back to bed and sleep another couple of hours, but, I’ve got stuff to do! I can’t nap the day away.
So, it’s Yerba Mate to the rescue!
This has a delightfully spicy fragrance, and what I like best about the aroma of this chai is that no one spice stands out amongst the others in this blend. I smell notes of all the components, and it smells like a mouth-watering medley of warm spice that evokes thoughts of chilly autumn days (they’re coming! they’re coming!)
I brewed the tea strong (using a little extra leaf) in near boiling water – I find that when I use boiling water for Yerba Mate, it results in a slightly bitter tasting mate. Drop the temperature to 195°F and you can brew this herb for ten minutes (or even longer) and I don’t taste any bitterness! I brewed it extra strong because I wanted a latte.
But, I did try it first without the “latte” … and while it was strong … it is a very flavorful chai! Lots of peppery spice … this chai is not for the weak! If you tend to cower at the idea of spicy heat … this chai is too much for you … but for those of you who like your chai to bite you when you take a sip … this is one you need to try!
As a latte, the spices are softened somewhat … that is, they aren’t quite as edgy as they were when I tried it straight up. But, there is still plenty of heat from this chai when served with a splash of warmed milk. The ginger and pepper are prominent, and I can feel their warmth develop at the back of my tongue and radiate to the top of my throat. It warms me so wonderfully … this is just what I need on a chilly day like today!
I like that while this chai seems to focus on the ginger and pepper, I can also taste the cinnamon, cardamom and the nutmeg. It’s sweet and spicy and earthy … and with the addition of the milk, it’s so nice and creamy too! It tastes really good served warm but it’s also delicious as it cools. (An iced chai latte, anyone?)
And the Yerba Mate did in fact help energize and WAKE me up! This chai gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from me.
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