Time to turn up the heat! Another Tea Tuesday has arrived yet again, and this week’s post features a grocery store find I promptly fell in love with around this time last year from UK brand, Teapigs called Chili Chai. Now… I feel the need to preface the fact that I have a really low tolerance when it comes to spice/heat. But who can seriously resist the warming powers of a good ol’ fashioned chai tea? Not even the bright red fire extinguisher illustrated at the top of the box was enough to damper my initial curiosity. Especially because this isn’t a company that is readily available here in Canada.
Teapigs’ Chili Chai comes in a box with 15 clear, mesh tea temples inside. The interesting thing about the packaging is that it’s made of sustainably sourced cardboard and printed with vegetable based inks, while the temples are biodegradable. For review purposes, I cut open several of them, in order to get a closer look at this chai tea. Chili Chai has a lot going on in its loose appearance, but all of its components are detectable, especially the ginger, cardamom pods and pops of colour from the chili flakes. The listed ingredients are: black tea, cinnamon pieces, ginger chunks, cardamom pods and seeds, cloves, chili flakes, and vanilla pieces. Getting your nose too close to this tea has a high probability rate of making you sneeze, at least that’s what happened to me… Otherwise, it is super fragrant. The way the spices come together to create one well-balanced scent is satisfying.
The steeping instructions for Chili Chai suggest that one tea temple be infused in boiling water 100°C (212°F) for at least 3 minutes, and although I followed the brewing time, I opted for a slightly lower water temperature of 95°C (200°F).
Three minutes later, and Chili Chai brews up to a vibrant reddish-brown hue. For the most part, it smells the same as it did beforehand. But now, the complex yet familiarity of the cardamom is coming to the forefront, followed by the malty Assam base! A couple sips in, and I can report that the chili element is not nearly as potent as I feared from the start, but still has a way of sneaking up on you. Smooth and mild going down, with a tingle that lingers at the back of the throat. There is no lack of flavour here. Even the vanilla contributes something to the mouth party - for me, a hint of natural sweetness. An enjoyable cuppa overall.
Chili Chai is a personal staple for me; it has just the right amount of heat. And honestly? It is worth the occasional bout of heartburn. Even though more times than not, I enjoy it with milk and some brown sugar, it really doesn’t need either to taste good. It’s super flavourful all on its own. If you’re looking for a more spice-forward chai or just looking to spice up your life, I would definitely recommend this Teapigs blend!
For me, I love when a chai has a prominent cardamom flavour. In your opinion, what makes a good chai tea? Sound off in the comments below!
Stay tuned for next week’s post which is also my first teaware review!
Until we steep again…