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Tea of the Week for January 8, 2017: Chai #13 (Black Tea/Honeybush)!

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 Chai #13!

Tea Description: As many of you are probably aware, I love chai blends. If I haven't made it obvious in how I speak of chai blends, then it is probably quite obvious in the blends that I create when it starts getting chilly outside. I pretty much switch the 'spice mode' to ON and sometimes I turn it way up. 

And so it is that I start crafting chai blends that really don't have a theme to them except to be good and zesty - and I start crafting chai blends that really don't have a NAME to them either. So, by my count (which may be off) - since we took over 52Teas, we've crafted 12 Chai blends - so this one must be Chai #13!

I started with Assam black tea and added a touch of Lapsang Souchong - just a touch - to offer a hint of smokiness to the overall cup. Then I added some honeybush to sweeten the cup and soften the Assam just enough so that it doesn't get too bitter. To this mix, I added spices. Lots of 'em! There are, of course, the usual suspects of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves & black pepper. Then I added some nutmeg because I love nutmeg - and some Star Anise - same reason! 

Steep up this tea for a warm, comforting drink! It tastes great served up straight but I prefer it with just a little bit of sweetener (raw sugar for me, please!) because I think that the sugar helps to define the spices just a little better - and with a splash of your choice of milk (coconut milk for me, please!), this makes a FABULOUS latte!

organic ingredients: black teas, honeybush, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, black pepper, star anise, nutmeg, calendula petals & natural flavors

Oh! How I LOVE a good chai - and this one is definitely good in my book!

We've been experiencing a lot of cold, wet rain in the Pacific Northwest over the course of the last couple of weeks - and this is exactly the kind of tea that I like to warm up with on a day like this!

I used a CTC Assam for this blend because I wanted a bold, malty flavor. I also added just a wee bit of Lapsang Souchong - I wanted a whisper of smokiness and a little something to help round out the Assam just a bit. The honeybush adds a little bit of sweetness to this - and lightens the overall cup just a bit.

When I blend a chai, I usually want the spices to be the star of the show - and this chai is no exception to that. The spices are strong - it's spicy but not a 'spicy hot' - more of a warm spicy. I taste all the components of the chai - the cinnamon, the cloves, the cardamom, the ginger and black pepper. I get a nice note of nutmeg to this too but I think that the true star of the spice set is the star anise. It gives off just a touch of licorice-y sweetness that plays so well with this blend of tea and spice. 

My first few sips were met with a kiss of that licorice-y sweetness, followed by the warmth of spices - then my palate began to recognize the black tea and something else too - a sweet, nutty flavor in the background. If you like star anise, this is going to be a chai that you're going to love! 

Right now, I'm drinking this with just a little bit (about half a teaspoon) of raw sugar. It's good just like that - with just a teeny bit of sugar to help define the spices - but it's also really nice as a latte!

to brew: with a chai, you want a little more leaf than you would normally scoop out for a cup of tea - because the spices take up a lot of space in your measuring device that would ordinarily be consumed by the tea leaves - and to achieve a nice, full flavor from the tea and spices, you need to compensate for that just a bit. I recommend about 4 1/2 to 5 grams of tea to 12 ounces of near boiling water (I heat my water to 205°F - just 7 degrees shy of the boiling point but I find that it makes a difference in taste. I find the cup to be much smoother with the slightly lower temperature.) 

steep for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. strain. allow to cool for about 10 minutes. enjoy!

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