31 Tasting Notes
Oo, this one is definitely different from my usual tea type. I’m going to have to have it more than once.
The first thing that hits me is the pine smoke smell – which is one that I’m very fond of, but not at all used to having in my tea. The anise and chocolate almost disappear underneath it while the tea is still very hot, but once it’s cooled a bit, they sneak out in the aftertaste quite nicely.
This tea definitely needs a few minutes to settle after it’s brewed; the flavors blend more, and the smoke settles down to an astringent sort of flavor that is quite strong but not overpowering.
I’m certainly not sorry I got it, though I’m not sure if it’s a regular keeper for me. (I have a couple of friends who are very fond of smoked teas and I want to see what they think of it.) I can see why it got the name it did – this tea is the sort one would be drinking next to a fireplace on a cold rainy night when the power’s gone out. It’s the right sort of flavor for that. (Not for a sunny morning in April when the cherry blossoms are going gangbusters outside my window so much. But that’s all right – I have a functional imagination.)
If you don’t like smoke, this is definitely not a good tea for you. Otherwise, I quite like it for what it is.
The oolong in this tea is roasted, which is what first jumped out at me. I could smell (and taste) a very strong smokey overtone which drowned out most of the other flavors until the tea cooled off quite a bit. The ginger was definitely there as well, but I didn’t smell – or taste – and of the other notes that are listed in the tea’s description, probably because the smoke was overpowering them for me.
I don’t think this is one I will go looking for again; it would seem roasted oolong is not my thing. Not sorry for trying it though.
I’m going to try this tea once more – I got a tasting packet, and it’s possible I just wasn’t in the right mood for it, or I oversteeped, or something, but it really didn’t do it for me the first time. I was looking for a rose tea with some cardamom to it. What I tasted was some cardamom with some tea around the edges – I couldn’t even taste the rose in there. :-( I love decaf rose tea, to the point that I’ve been making my own with rose petals from Sullivan Street and Decaf Ceylon from Upton, but it would be nice not to need to blend my own. (I have too many other demands on my time, I would like to simplify and also support other tea vendors.) But this one…didn’t do it for me. Oh well. We’ll see if a second round does it for me, but if not, this one’s going on the “nope” list.
Why do I keep buying Chocolate Chais? Why do I do this to myself? It’s never what I’m after – I’m always hoping for that awesome mouthfeel of a particularly good spiced hot chocolate, and tea is never that thing. This is not the fault of the Chai, it is the fault of my expectations, and I’m well aware of that. I should stop trying, give up, and go drink a normal chai because that will taste like what I’m expecting, or spice my hot cocoa. Not try to combine the two.
That being said, this chai actually does a much better job than most of achieving something close to what I’m trying for. If it were a bit heftier on the spices, I might try actually boiling the tea in milk and then straining it, and seeing if I could make chocolate spiced milk. (I did try steeping a hefty tablespoon of it in 8 ounces of water and then combining it equal parts with milk – it still wasn’t right.)
There is a definite chocolate-ness to this Chai. It’s not pretending about the chocolate at all. As it cools, and after you’ve swallowed it, there is actually quite a nice chai there as well in the aftertaste, not too heavy on the cloves, no numbness in the mouth. (And not punching me in the teeth with cardamom, which I appreciate. I had another tea recently that used green cardamom that was too fierce.) The nose is also definitely chocolate – I expect that’s not just the nibs but the real chocolate bits in there. (Makes cleaning my tea strainer a bit of a chore, but that’s what fats will do.) So all in all, a perfectly serviceable chai that is exactly what it says on the tin.
But it’s not spiced hot cocoa, which is what my brain expects when I drink something that smells this chocolate-y, and so I have a sad. I will not be buying it again, but I at least will not be as sorry that I tried this one as several other chocolate teas and chais I’ve tried in the past.
Somebody remind me I don’t like chocolate chai next time I go tea shopping, ’kay?
Flavors: Cardamom, Chocolate, Cloves
I really thought I would like this tea, so I bought a lot of it. Oops. It is proving to be not to my taste for reasons I can’t quite figure out. The scent is very floral and full of peach blossoms, and the ginger is definitely present in the aftertaste. There is nothing wrong with this tea. And yet…nope, not doing it for me. I’ll drink my way through what I have of it – it’s not objectionable – but it’s definitely not going to be a tea I grab for when I want comfort-tea or pleasure-tea; this is what I’m going to drink when I go, “I need a cup of something warm and decaf and I don’t care what it tastes like.” (I got the decaf version. That shouldn’t be part of it, but it might be.)
Possibly I’ll decant a bunch of mine into smaller tins and give them to friends who also like peach and ginger. It’s possible it will work for them in ways it does not work for me. Oh well – can’t win them all.