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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: Two Leaves and a Bud’s Mountain High Chai Tea

The Subject: Mountain High Chai Tea from Two Leaves and a Bud.

Water temperature: 212° F
Steeping time: 5 minutes

Tea type: Black
Scents, flavorings, etc.: Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom
Aroma, dry: Strong cinnamon, overwhelming other aromas
Aroma in the cup, plain: Strong cinnamon, overwhelming other aromas
Taste, plain: Strong cinnamon, overwhelming other aromas
Aroma in the cup, enhanced: Strong cinnamon, overwhelming other aromas
Taste, enhanced: Smoother, needs extra sweetener, still very evident cinnamon and clove, cardamom is somewhat lost among them

2nd Infusion: Not recommended, was rather bitter and spiciness was virtually gone

Chilled: Didn’t try

The cinnamon in this chai is so overwhelming that it leeched through the plastic bag that the vendor used to ship the sample in, the second plastic bag in which I put the first bag, and the paper bag I put them both in. I made the mistake to put this paper bag next to their Assam tea sample and had to air it out to get rid of the cinnamon smell.

My advice to Two Leaves and a Bud: when shipping out samples, put them in a suitable container so that strong aromas don’t spread.

As for the tea “liquor,” it was rather cloudy with spice dust (probably cloves and cardamom), which is typical of chais. We tried a few sips of the tea plain, but clearly this tea is meant to be enhanced with milk and sweetener. A cupful (or two or three) of the enhanced chai was much better, although the cinnamon was still overpowering. (The vendor says on their site that the chai contains cardamom, but we have our doubts.)

We added a few Walker’s shortbread cookies and McVitie’s Dark Chocolate Digestives to our tea tasting experience.

How this chai compares with other chais:
  • Twinings Chai (basically tea and spice dust in a bag) — Two Leaves chai is fresher tasting and less bitter.
  • Tazo® Chai served at Starbuck’s — Both the Two Leaves chai and the Tazo chai are strongly flavored with cinnamon. However, the Tazo chai is also overly strong in other spices and leaves a slight burning sensation in my throat.
  • English Tea Store’s Indian Spice Chai Black Tea — Two Leaves chai is more “Western” in its use of spices, whereas the ETS chai has bold Indian spice flavors and there is no mistaking the cardamom flavor, among others. Which you prefer is a matter of personal taste. We like both but with different foods.
By the way, the mug I used for the photo of the chai with milk and sweetener is from L.K. Studios, where owner Lana K. Williams produces crystalline porcelain items ranging from mugs to lamp bases.

Disclaimer: The teas reviewed here were provided by the company named. However, the rating of the tea and any opinions concerning it are strictly objective.

1 comment:

  1. I have the same feeling about Chai's that are too heavy on the cinnamon. I also thought that this chai was heavy on the clove--another spice that I think can easily be overdone. I noticed the cardamon in the aroma, but again, I would have appreciated much more!


    When I brew my own chai, I often omit the cinnamon completely, instead relying on mainly cardamon, with a bit of allspice, mace, and maybe coriander. And when I use clove I use only a dash--typically one whole clove is enough for several cups.

    I haven't tried the chai's you recommend from Twinings and the English Tea Store. I do like Stash's Chai, although it tastes very different from other typical chai blends, it's almost a little more earl-grey-like than typical for a chai, which is strange.


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