Tea of the Week for October 7, 2019: Northwest Chai!
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Northwest Chai (Black Tea Base)
Our First Tea from our "I Love The Pacific Northwest" Collection!
Tea Description: I've been plotting this tea for a while. This blend was inspired by one of my favorite local coffee shops. They have a really good chai latte that is nicely spiced & I can actually taste TEA. One of my biggest qualms with most chai lattes that I've tried from other coffee shops is that they use chai concentrates that tastes more sweet than spicy - with very little tea taste to speak of - but this little shop has a boldly spiced chai powder that has a strong tea flavor to it - and it isn't sweetened so when they add those flavored sugar syrups to the blend, it doesn't end up tasting more like a sugary soda than a tea.
On the rare occasion that I do visit the aforementioned coffee shop, I order a blackberry hazelnut chai latte & it is AWESOME! So good that it inspired me to make my own blackberry hazelnut chai blend & this is it! Two flavors that the Pacific Northwest is known for are blackberries (they grow abundantly in the wild here, although I wouldn't recommend that you pick the ones growing along the side of the freeways!) & hazelnuts - so it seems only appropriate that this chai blend be called Northwest Chai . . . & that the Northwest Chai be featured prominently in my "I Love the Pacific Northwest" themed subscription box!
This chai has a good amount of spice to it with a spice blend that is comprised of not just the usual suspects - cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves & black pepper - but also cumin & nutmeg. I also added just a little bit of chicory to give it a richness & hint of coffee-ish flavor because - well, the Pacific Northwest is also known for coffee. So here is my nod to blackberries & hazelnuts, but also coffee.
This warmly spiced chai blend was combined with a blend of Assam & Ceylon (heavy on the Assam) & just a touch of honeybush for it's nutty tones & sweet, honeyed notes. Then I added a bunch of freeze-dried blackberries & some hazelnut extract (that is - believe it or not! - nut free!)
Now, this doesn't taste quite like that latte from my local coffee shop because it isn't made with sugary syrups. The flavors are derived from fruit, spices, natural flavors & most importantly: actual loose leaf tea & to tell you the truth, I prefer this to my local coffee shop's chai latte because it ISN'T too sweet. I get a good amount of blackberry flavor, a nice hazelnut note & plenty of spice & TEA! I prefer it non-latte, but you can easily turn this into a latte by brewing it extra strong (using extra leaf) & adding milk to the concentrated brew. A little bit of sweetener will enhance the flavors of the fruit, nut & spices - without making it as sweet as your average coffee shop chai latte.
This fantastic chai blend is sugar-free, gluten-free, allergen-free (Yep, even NUT free), VEGAN & organic!
organic ingredients: black teas, honeybush, blackberries, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, black pepper, cumin, chicory, nutmeg & natural flavors
Oh! My! Goodness! This chai is so yummy!!!
One thing that I definitely miss in the summertime is CHAI. Oh, sure, you can get it year 'round, and I suppose I could make a chai blend any time of year if I wanted to. But a chai in summertime just doesn't taste the same. I've had chai tea blended in ice for a super chilled iced latte drink & they are really good. But they just aren't the same. There is something about a warmly spiced chai served hot in fall (& winter, of course!) that is just so comforting & satisfying. One of my FAVORITE things!
And while I do love a good chai latte - I actually prefer my chai without milk most of the time. I usually just serve a chai hot with a drizzle of honey or a teensy bit of sugar (added to highlight the spice) & I forego the milk so that it doesn't mask the notes of the delightful chai.
And THIS is truly delightful! The first few sips of my cup were mostly chai - that is spices - with the bold black tea notes & I could taste a bit of the chicory too which filled out the flavors really nicely. After those first couple of sips, I started to pick up on the juicy blackberry & sweet hazelnut notes. Everything comes together really well here - it's spicy - but not what I'd call spicy HOT ... it's just, you know, spicy ... but it doesn't overpower everything else that this blend has going on for it.
to brew: I know you've 'heard' me say it before, but you need to shake this blend well. those spices need to be evenly dispersed throughout the blend. use 3 1/2 to 4 grams of leaf to 12 ounces of nearly boiling water (205°F) & allow to steep for 3 minutes. strain & allow to cool for about 10 minutes. enjoy!
If you're going to make a latte, be sure to use a little more leaf.