Taste Testing (Part 19)
Posted by on
Today, I'm taste testing a reblend that was ordered during our start-up Kickstarter campaign - this reblend was requested as part of the "You Choose the Reblend" initiative tier on that campaign.
This chai starts with a black tea base of rich, flavorful, organic teas from India and China. Then I add chai spices and chocolate flavors (including organic roasted cacao nibs and cacao shells and mini VEGAN chocolate chips!). Then I add a liberal amount of crushed red chili flakes.
I altered this recipe slightly from the original, but I'm quite happy with these changes. First of all (and probably most obvious) - I used my black tea blend of organic teas. Another change is the addition of cacao shells. I absolutely LOVE the rich, dark chocolate flavor that the shells impart. Finally, I used crushed red chili flakes instead of cayenne pepper powder.
I made that decision for two reasons, first, I didn't like the idea of using powder. Powdered spices lose their potency rather quickly and while I'm not really worried about a loss of potency when it comes to cayenne pepper, I generally make it a practice to use larger spices whenever possible, especially with teas. And that's because powdered spices will possibly find a way to attach themselves to some of the tea leaves and other ingredients, but some of the spices will also filter to the bottom of the pouch and it becomes difficult to ensure an even distribution of the spice. With a tea like this, I felt it was important to have a the spices - especially the chili pepper - large enough that it can be distributed evenly throughout the batch and it can easily redistribute itself when the pouch is gently shaken.
But worry not, this change to the blend still offers up plenty of heat! It's warm and has a gentle burn on the back of the throat that develops into a stronger, hotter heat as I continue to sip. This tea is hot and spicy - but it's not so hot that you can't taste the other flavors of the cup. I still get lots of yummy chocolate flavors and I can taste notes of cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, clove and cardamom.
Really good! This is one tea that I'm really happy was selected as a "You Choose the Reblend" tea!
To brew: Before you open the pouch, turn it upside down and give it a gentle shake to help redistribute the spices a little. I measured out a heaping bamboo scoop of the tea (there are a lot of spices to this chai, so you want to make sure you have an ample amount of black tea leaves too!) into the basket of my Kati Tumbler and added 12 ounces of boiling water to the tumbler. I let it steep for 2 1/2 minutes and let it cool for ten minutes. I took a preliminary sip to check for sweetness and I think this is really better with just a little bit of sugar or honey (or agave nectar) to enhance the spices a bit. It's not necessary, of course, but I think it's a better beverage with a little bit of sweet to complement the spice.