Thursday, March 13, 2008

Original Masala Review

Type: Chai
Origin: India
Price: Sample (regular price - $15 for 3.5 oz.)
Vendor: Yogic Chai
Brewing Method: Per Instructed - 1 tsp of loose leaves, 1 cup of filtered water, boiled at 200-212F, steeped for 2 minutes, added ¼ cup of 2% milk, and steeped for another minute.
Overall Score: 4.6 out of 5

The Original Masala tea smelled and tasted very similar to the Kuki Chai Masala tea. I am first hit with the sweet and spicy cinnamon smell. Also, I taste the cinnamon first and then the ginger and cloves start to creep up, leaving their essence on my tongue. The difference with the Original Masala is the Assam black tea base adds a bit of a smoky flavor in the background.

Again, this chai gives me that warm, cozy feeling. I am brought back to the pumpkin pie reference, as I mentioned with the Kuki Chai Masala, with the smell and taste of the spices. However, the smokiness of the Assam creates a bold twist. I did find this brew a little bitterer and having more astringency than the Kuki Chai Masala. This was obvious, though, because black tea tends have a bit more of a bite than green tea. It has been suggested by the instructions from Yogic Chai to add maple syrup as a sweetener. I do not mind a slight bitter taste like the one in this cup so I did not add the syrup (and I did not add any syrup to the Kuki Chai Masala, either).

I brewed this chai without milk to experience the taste of the tea itself. The milk made this tea significantly milder. When I drank the brew without milk, the cinnamon, along with the bitterness of the black tea, made my mouth feel hot, spicy, and dry. As mentioned before with the Kuki Chai Masala, the milk added a creamy, smooth texture. The brew without milk was too watery and too strong for my taste.

The color of this brew, compared to the Kuki Chai Masala, is darker. While it was brewing, the color was a deep red. However, by the time it was done steeping, it had turned brown in color (first picture). When the milk was added, it toned down the color just a bit making the brew a tan or light brown color (second picture).

Before brewing the Assam leaves, along with the other spices, are clearly unique and identifiable (third picture). In both the Kuki Chai Masala and this Original Masala, I loved the different colors of the ingredients. The Original Masala blend has the black Assam leaves with the bright green cardamom, the red cinnamon, and the white cloves and ginger. After brewing the Assam leaves have opened up nicely (fourth picture). The smell of ginger seems to be present more than the cinnamon, while observing the wet leaves.

The reason this tea received a slightly lower score is based on my personal preference of the type of tea. I like green tea more than black tea. I really thought the green Kukicha in the Kuki Chai Masala brought the flavors of the spices together better than the Original Masala. I enjoy more grassy flavors of tea, like the Kuki Chai Masala, and not so much of smoky flavors, like the Original Masala. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not saying that I don’t like this tea. However, if I had to choose only one, Kuki Chai Masala still holds first place.

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