“Idris” Hot Chocolate Infused Chai from Calabash Tea. . . . .

A tea friend and I rather randomly ended up at Calabash Tea Bar & Cafe last time I was in D.C. The owner of this gorgeous cafe is an herbalist, so the blends focus on the medicinal value of tea, herbs, and spices. It started raining just as we got there, so we decided to settle in and stay a while. I’m so glad we did. We got to try several of their teas and both fell in love with this one (though really, who could resist Idris?). I ended up buying this and the anti-inflammatory Triple Goddess blend to take home.

I have brewed this tea a few times now. I always brew it hot – it just seems wrong to drink a chocolate chai iced. My favorite way to enjoy it is with a splash of chocolate almond milk, which turns this into a creamy chocolate bit of heaven in a cup. Even without any additions, the chocolate flavor is rich with a bit of the bite that dark chocolate has. The most dominant chai spice here is clove, but it is not overwhelming. I’m also picking up maltiness from the base tea, cinnamon, and a hint of citrus (though I am not at all certain that there is either cinnamon or anything citrusy in the blend). The clove, malt, and chocolate notes linger after the sip, with the clove lingering longest because of that tingling sensation clove can cause. This blend can be steeped a second time, though it loses the cocoa notes and comes out a tad watery. Some almond milk fixes that right up though.

Overall, this makes for a great fall tea that doesn’t require milk but does benefit from it.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Calabash Tea
Description

Add an extra dash of spice makes Calabash’s Hot Chocolate Chai a delight!. This organic chai is strong, spicy, sweet and unapologetic about waking you up for a lil’ lovin’ in your cup. INGREDIENTS: The highest quality Assam Black Tea, Cocoa Powder, Chai Spices, Chocolate Buttons & lots of love.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Chai Five from Tickled Tea. . .

This is not a tea I would pick for myself. In fact, it is not a tea I picked for myself. I am not one for chais, though I will admit when done right, they can be awesome but that is hard to accomplish when each person likes a different balance of spices and “right” to me may not be the same as “right” to another. That is why I left this out of my cart when grabbing samples of the many Tickled Tea offerings. Nonetheless, this appeared in my package and today, as the chilly autumn air set in, seemed like the perfect day to give it a try, latte-style.

Chai Five, as per the product description, is a spicy blend of black chai tea, including 5 traditional masala chai spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and peppercorns. It smells strongly of cardamom so I was definitely surprised when I got more clove flavor. That and a cinnamon sweetness. This is also one of the few times in a tea that I actually tasted the peppercorn, which is a nice kick. For those that love cardamom, don’t fret as there is still some of it to be found in the taste, though not as much as you would anticipate given the smell. Ginger lovers may be disappointed as I am finding my mug at least is lacking.

Nonetheless, this is actually a pretty lovely take on chai. Spicy and sweet and complimented beautifully by the creaminess of the milk. Like I said before, I am not a lover of chais, but on a cold day like today , a chai latte can be a nice bit of warming comfort in a mug and this certainly fit that bill.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Tickled Tea
Description

A spicy blend of black chai tea, including 5 traditional masala chai spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and peppercorns.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Country Chai Spice from Cozy Leaf Tea . . .

If your discerning palette is in search of organic teas, I’ve got a new company for you to consider: Cozy Leaf! They focus on organic ingredients, and have a bunch of teas, including one for lactating mothers, and two specifically for pregnant women: baby blessings and pregnancy.

I have neither had children nor, accordingly, lactated, so today we’re sticking with my favorite: a nice black chai!

This is a yummy, deep mix. It has malty assam instead of the funky darjeeling that’s typically found in chai, which makes it richer and mellower. The cloves and other spices participate in giving it that chill vibe.

This tea is like a good pair of thick wool socks on a lazy Sunday. Maybe you’ll walk outside through crispy fallen leaves with your dog, sipping tea from an insulated travel mug. Maybe you’ll sit on your deck with a blanket, peacefully reading some light fiction. You’ll rent a movie and nuzzle with a buddy, laughing at all the perfectly-timed jokes. You will own a wind chime and it will only tinkle peacefully when you feel like hearing it.

Ahhhh. A chill chai. Throw it in your travel mug today — if you absolutely must leave the couch.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Cozy Leaf Tea
Description

Full-bodied black tea chai made with real chai spices of rich cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, and sweet anise and clove for a healthy and delicious treat.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Muskoka Chai from Pluck Teas. . . .

There’s something magical about chai. I’m pretty sure it’s not just me– while chai was technically the first tea I ever REALLY loved, ask any tea lover and they’ll tell you that there are just about as many iterations of chai as there are tea drinkers to imbibe them. FUN FACT, actually– did you know that “chai” actually translates to simply “tea” in many languages? So while we may think of chai as the milky, spiced treat that we’ve grown accustomed to as Westerners, its roots go far deeper than your corner coffeehouse’s standard tea offerings.

But I digress. I was particularly pumped when I saw this Muskoka Chai blend from Pluck show up in my tea samples. With visible dried cranberries, big, spicy cardamom pods, and boasting a whole host of spices and a blend of licorice + black tea, I was sure this one would have been made for me. Brewed as a latte (how I usually prefer my spiced chai), I’ll be honest: I was a little bummed. As a traditional, spicy chai? It was great, and hit all my expectations. But with the interesting additions, I was sure this particular iteration (cranberries! licorice!) of my favorite beverage would be just a little more special, and well, reader– unfortunately it was not.

If you’re looking for a standard chai for introducing your newbie-tea-friends to the glorious treat that is a chai latte, look no further. But if chai 2.0 is what you’re searching for, I’d pass on this one in search of something else.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Pluck Teas
Description

Dried Muskoka cranberries add an unexpected twist to this premium traditional Chai made with an organic Assam black tea, that also features whole cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Green Tea Chai by Vahdam Teas

Steeped with a heaping tablespoon of leaves at 175 degrees in about 1 cup of water.

This tea was a new experience for me! I’ve tried lots of flavored green teas, but never one where the green tea was a substitute for black tea in a chai blend. As a result of this tea, I’ve realized how different these spices are outside of a conventional chai context and how much I take the black tea base for granted in chai blends!

As it steeps, I can detect a fragrance of spices; it smells like cinnamon and possibly cloves. The tea liquid isn’t very dark. In fact it’s only achieved a pale honeylike color after it’s finished steeping; it’s a little viscous, with nearly invisible flecks (of cinnamon, perhaps?) swimming in it.

The flavor is very different from any chai I’ve ever tried. The spices, instead of melding with a malty black tea flavor to form a rounded flavor profile, are instead mingling with the bright astringent green tea notes (grassy almost, but not much on the floral side that I can detect). This makes for a very focused flavor overall. It’s highly concentrated in the bright and forward flavor notes and not so much rounded out with the deeper tones that a black tea normally imparts to a chai (in my experience). It’s almost bitter, but then again, I may have oversteeped it a bit–I like my chais strong.

With milk, it’s suddenly not very strong at all. It still has spice flavors, but I’m really missing the black tea base here. And I know you aren’t really “supposed” to put milk in green tea, but that’s what I normally do with chai so I figured why not?

So to sum up, don’t expect this to taste like a more conventional chai! Instead, expect a bright, spicy, focused flavor that’s intended to be enjoyed alone or with a little sweetener; I recommend trying it without milk. In fact, I bet this would make a great iced tea!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Vahdam Teas
Description

A superior blend of fresh green tea from Darjeeling blended with choicest Indian spices like Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove & Black Peppercorns. Discover a smooth fulfilling aroma of fresh greens with delicious undertones of raw spices in every sip. The liquor is bright green with an energizing aroma. A unique chai tea which can be served with or without milk.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!