7 Tasting Notes
My absolute favorite chai to date. If there’s one spice that will make me feel favorably disposed to a tea blend, it’s cardamom, and this chai more than any other I’ve tried provides cardamom in abundance. It smells and tastes warm and rich; it’s bracing and spicy. I first found this chai at the beginning of February in my freshman year at college. I brewed up pots of it on Friday nights to get me through dismal weekends of snow and studying. I was devastated when I finally ran out, and now ration it out to myself much more carefully.
I advise chai-lovers, however, not to even bother making this tea by the cupful. This chai begs for a long, long infusion: it’s best when boiled in a pot on the stovetop with plenty of milk and then sweetened to taste. Make it in large quantities. For every cup of liquid in the pot, add a heaping spoonful of tea—plus one extra for good measure—and simmer it for a good five minutes for every cup added. And at least half the liquid used should be milk of some kind. It has to be watched carefully to keep from boiling over, and it’ll form a bit of a skin if left undisturbed, but the result is well worth the time. Shared between myself and one or two friends, a six-cup batch can easily be gone within a couple of hours. Nothing is better when you’re cold and tired.
This tea was recommended to me at DAVIDsTEA shop after I responded with an enthusiastic yes when the salesperson asked if I liked rose. I didn’t get the chance to sample it before purchase, but it seemed like a good gamble because it contained everything that I like. Rose! Fennel! Coconut! Chili threads! Set me up!
I happen to like this tea, but I would advise caution, since it certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes. The smell when dry is… interesting. Rose dominates, but it’s not quite like any other rose tea I’ve had. The very first thing it brought to mind, bizarrely, was a toy my sister had as a child. The toy had some kind of scent added to it that was reminiscent of roses and sugar cookie dough, and this tea had precisely that same smell. It didn’t put me off completely, but it was unexpected.
This is a very mild tea; I have to steep it for several minutes to get the flavor strong enough. Just as in its smell, rose is the dominant flavor, with a mildly spicy aftertaste from the chili. The fennel tends to get overwhelmed, and there’s nothing in the smell or taste to indicate there’s any coconut involved. The combination of rose and chili, however, is enough to make me happy; I enjoy it with milk and honey when I want a tea to help me relax or warm me up. It’s nice to have around when the mood strikes, but I could easily do without.
I’ll admit right away that I’m not well-versed enough in oolong teas to compare this to other milk oolongs. I’m a devotee of strong black tea, for the most part. But this – this is actually one of my very favorites. The leaves are deliciously fragrant when dry, with a scent that’s somehow both bright and milky-sweet, and they unfurl dramatically when steeped. I always take my tea a little sweetened, and a splash of milk isn’t out of place with this tea. It’s mellow and refreshing, perfect for summer days when you still want a hot cup of tea.
Very nice. A tea that actually tastes exactly the way the name describes it: it has a hot chili after-taste as well as natural sweetness. I don’t think it has enough body to be really satisfying on its own, but it works great when it’s blended with other teas for different flavor combinations or giving your tea a spicy kick.
I first tried this tea maybe 4 years ago and absolutely loved it. The rose flavor was mild and sweet, and it sparked my love of rose-flavored teas. But having just bought another tin for the first time since then, I found myself pretty disappointed. The tea doesn’t live up to my memories at all. I remember it being subtle, but now the smell of the teabags and flavor of the tea reminds me of strong perfume. My roommate, who doesn’t like flowery scents, is affronted if I even open the tin in the room because the smell is so strong and lingers around. I don’t know whether my tastes have improved since I first tried this tea or if the “recipe” just changed at some point since then. I have to drink it with a lot of milk to mellow out perfume-y taste, and whereas I normally use two teabags per cup, I can only handle one of this. It might be more tolerable when combined with something like Earl Grey or a breakfast blend, though.
This isn’t my very favorite chai blend, but it comes in at second place, nevertheless. The black tea is strong, but the proportion of spices is not very great, so I always add extra peppercorns, cardamom, and anything else I have on hand.
The best way to make this chai is on the stovetop, which is more time consuming but yields a stronger, more flavorful chai. If you know the ratio of water to milk you prefer (1:1, for instance), you can make a single serving or a large batch all at once. Start by heating your water to a boil in a pot (extra spices can be added to the water as it heats). Then, add a generous spoonful of tea per intended cup of chai, and allow to simmer for five minutes. Next, add the milk of your preference and allow to heat until it just returns to a simmer, at which point you should remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for another five minutes. Strain and serve. If honey is your sweetener of choice, add it after straining; otherwise, a spoonful of sugar per cup of liquid can be added at any point. Keep in mind that if you’re making only a single serving, some of the liquid will evaporate or be absorbed by the tea leaves, so you’ll end up with a very concentrated cup, so you may want to use a little extra water/milk; making a large batch makes this less noticeable.
As for me, I like using half milk and half water in my chai, so if I want to make two cups, I start with a cup of water, add two or three spoonfuls of tea, and then add the cup of milk. Voila.
I love rose-flavored things, and Rose Melange is the best rose-flavored tea I’ve had. Though the tea itself is strong, the rose flavor is not at all lost or overpowered as it so often is in other rose teas. Rose Melange looks and smells wonderful both as loose tea and after brewing, and I’ve never found it to become bitter, even though I tend to steep my tea for a long time. I think it’s delicious with milk and sugar. One of my absolute favorites.