Ok, I gave in and bought some Rooibus Chais.
I’ve seen a lot of good reviews for Upton Teas here, but I really don’t like their web site. It is small and cluttered and looks like it’s from 1996. But when Amy oh mentioned their awesome prices on samples, I decided to give it another look. I was seriously like a kid in a candy store-almost all the samples were just $1. It was so easy to just keep adding samples to my basket-I mean, who really thinks much about an extra dollar, right? You don’t see it adding up. If I didn’t have so much tea here, with more on the way, I could have easily ordered twice as many samples. The order shipped the next day and I got it just two days later. $4.40 for flat shipping is not the cheapest flat rate, but it is definitely one of the cheaper flat rates I have seen. The samples come in nice sealed foil packets. Sadly, they are not resealable. Going to have to break out some clothespins or something.
I wish I had thought of buying samples sooner-so many more teas to be able to try-and no big hit if you don’t like something. I used to think having to buy “only” 50 grams was nice, but 12 and 15 grams is awesome-I run out of stuff faster and can get more samples sooner (and buy in bulk the stuff I really love). Yeah, I’m a little excited about this. It’s like when you were in high school and joined the Columbia House Record Club and got your first shipment of 12 CD’s all at once for like $2-yes, dating myself perhaps.
Ok, the Rooibus Chai Blend. Dry-Star anise is most prominent, although I smell the cardomom too. Love the little orange peel bits (I’ve had that before, maybe in a Kashmiri Chai). I brewed exactly 8 minutes. The liquor is copper orange/brown-not very rooibos-ey at all. Brewed it smells a bit like TG’s Christmas Herbal Blend with the cinnamon and a touch of clove.
I brewed two cups-one straight and one with soymilk and sugar added. I actually used to drink chais straigh-then I tried a chai at a Himalayan restaurant. They warned me it was way too strong straight, but they were out of soymilk, so I had it straight. It was good, but really strong. Have gone to soy and sugar ever since. However, this blend holds up well straight, but the cinnamon and pepper is a little strong-at least not tasting too much star anise. I didn’t really notice the cardomom-which is not a bad thing, as I don’t like it to be too noticeable.
With milk, I brewed chai in mug and added soy and sugar after brewing was complete. It was really delicious. I tasted a little star anise but more cloves and orange than in the straight brew. The cinnamon was tamed too (I’m drinking rooibus because of reflux, so I don’t want too much cinnamon, which is an irritant). I am used to drinking a Masala Chai after dinner as a dessert with a cookie or two. I think this blend is a really good caffeine-free substitute for that and I will be drinking it with soy and sugar from now on. I only got a sample pack, but it promises me 7 brews. That’s 14 cents a cup-can’t beat that price for a sampler. Trying a couple of other Rooibus Chais, but there is a good chance I will buy more of this in the future.