PRODUCT REVIEW: Chai Masala Spice Blend from The Chai Cart

Where to Buy:  The Chai Cart on Foodzie

or visit The Chai Cart website for more information

Product Description:

Make any tea into “Masala” tea by adding this magical blend of eight spices known for culinary flavors and therapeutic qualities.

When brewed with black tea and milk, this spice blend makes a bold, fragrant and smooth cup of Masala Chai that will transport you to India in just one sip.

The magical mix of eight spices is perfectly balanced so that no single spice dominates the palate. The boldness of cloves and nutmeg with the spice of ginger are balanced with the fragrance of cardamom and the sweetness of cinnamon. Fennel and white and black pepper add further layers of complexity.

This blend can also be used with green tea or rooibos as well as in soups, stews and countless recipes that need to be spiced up!

Taster’s Review:

This blend of spices is so versatile that it could be used in just about anything.  I considered grinding it fine and using it as a rub on a pork loin, but then, remembering that I still had a teeny-tiny bit of my Sweet Caramel O’Mine tea, I decided that I would use my sample of this spice blend as an enhancement for a cup o’ Spiced Sweet Caramel O’Mine.

I used three teaspoons of the spices with three teaspoons of the tea blend.   This made a very pleasant 3 cups of bold and spicy tea.  I added a dollop of honey and found that it was just perfect served this way.  To make a latte, I would have reduced the amount of water that I used to brew (only 2 cups of water) so that the milk wouldn’t dilute the flavors.

And … OH MY GOODNESS.  This is good.  Somehow the spices bring out the burnt sugar aspect of the caramel, giving this an almost sweet-and-savory kind of taste.  I think the nutmeg and the caramel compliment each other so well!

The main spice flavor that I’m tasting is the ginger, which when combined with the white and black peppers give this cup a very peppery kick!  The cinnamon comes just after the ginger, and the cardamom and cloves add pleasant dimension.  I can’t taste much of the fennel here, and while I do like fennel, perhaps it is a good thing that I can’t taste it too strongly with this tea.  I think it might taste a little too funky with the caramel.

I really like this blend.  I think I may be buying a tin of this in the near future so that I can use it on my next pork loin roast.  If I do this, I’ll be sure to post a review and the recipe on my Foodie Blog!

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Root 66 Tea from Monterey Bay Spice Company

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane/Spice Melangé

Where to Buy:  Monterey Bay Spice Company

Product Description:

Roasted dandelion, chicory root, and sarsaparilla root get you started towards Root 66 Tea. Creating a robust and dark infusion, this herbal tea exudes a mouth-watering natural earthiness. Good for your liver, Root 66 Tea also twists in a bit of the exotic: the lively sweetness of coconut and the slight chocolate taste of carob. With lingering licorice airiness, this herbal makes a fantastic coffee substitute or a dessert tea!

IngredientsSarsparilla root, chicory root, roasted dandelion root, carob pods, cinnamon, fennel, crystal malt and coconut.

Caffeine Free

Taster’s Review:

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m always a little leery of herbal blends such as this.  I’m always afraid that they’ll taste too medicinal for my personal taste, so I find myself always putting off trying them.

And I am really sorry that I put off trying this one as long as I did, because it’s rather tasty!  It has a sweet, root beer-like taste to it which is enhanced by the spices and malt.  It has a slightly roasted taste to it too, and I like how the coconut and sarsaparilla taste together.  It’s really much better than I imagined it would be.

The Sarsaparilla root gives this tisane its root beer taste.  The licorice-y taste of fennel and the cocoa notes of the carob enhance the sweetness of this cup while the cinnamon gives it a nice warmth in the background.  There is a roasted note to this as well from the chicory and roasted dandelion root which adds depth to the cup.

But what really makes this tisane special is the coconut.  I love the combination of flavors – it’s sort of like a chocolate and coconut flavored spiced root beer!

This tisane has a little bit of an herbal/medicinal aftertaste that I would define as almost peppery – it’s the dandelion!  However, this aftertaste doesn’t linger very long.  And because I enjoy the flavor of the tea so much, I can overlook the aftertaste.

I am sipping this now as a hot beverage – it is cold and wet outside and I am enjoying the warm, cozy comfort of a hot tea, but I think that this blend would be even better iced – it would be a great substitute for soda!  Just a little pinch of sugar will enhance the sweeter notes and make it an irresistible treat for the kids.  It’s naturally caffeine free, so there’s nothing to overstimulate them, either!

This is YUMMY!

Silky Spice from Simpson & Vail

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal/Spice Melangé

Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail

Company Description:

This fabulously heady blend of hibiscus flowers, cinnamon, cloves, sarsaparilla, coconut, allspice, and orange blossoms with vanilla and cinnamon flavors brews to a deep red cup. Definitely a palate pleaser! The taste is slightly spicy, with a creamy finish and a lingering spiciness that is uniquely refreshing.

Taster’s Review:

While I had high hopes for this tea, I was also a bit hesitant to try it.  All of the ingredients sound GREAT… except the hibiscus!  So, here, with a little apprehension, I am about to taste this new herbal/spice melangé offering from Simpson & Vail.

First reaction:  Interesting.  The hibiscus does offer its trademark tartness to the cup, as well as a bit of body to what might otherwise be a somewhat thin tisane.  That being said, I’m still of the opinion that this would be better without the hibiscus.

But, lets consider the tea as it is.  I really like the spicy notes of this tea.  It isn’t a “hot” spicy, but more of a gently warm spice combination with a lot of character to it.  The cinnamon, cloves, and allspice give a nice, well-rounded spice taste that is neither too hot nor abundantly sweet.

What I really find interesting about this blend is the sarsaparilla.  It adds a really intriguing note to the cup.  The vanilla is soft and adds a sweet creaminess to the tisane, as does the coconut. There is a also faint citrus note from the orange blossoms.

I think I prefer this hot, because some of the most interesting flavors become a bit more elusive as the tisane cools.  Try it with a drizzle of honey – I love how it brings out the sarsaparilla! 

Here is a recipe for Silky Spice Hot Grog, found on the Simpson & Vail website:

Simmer 1 cup of apple cider and 2 Tbsp Silky Spice Hibiscus Herbal Tea for 10 minutes.
Strain out the herbs.
Sprinkle cinnamon and garnish with orange slices and a cinnamon stick.
Makes 1 serving.

Vermont Maple Tea from Teavana

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit & Spice Melangé

Where to Buy:  This tea is no longer available from Teavana

Company Description:

This herbal tisane tastes of crisp apples, toasted almonds, and cinnamon all sweetened with a rich natural maple syrup taste. Drink year round to remind yourself of chilly winters around the hearth.

Taster’s Review:

I admit that I have a weakness when it comes to maple.  So, naturally, this tisane was very appealing to me.

The maple flavor here is blended with the flavors of cinnamon and apple and a faint hint of almond.  The combination is truly wonderful.  The cinnamon notes are spicy, but not “red hot” hot – perhaps its the maple that curbs some of the spicier tones of the cinnamon.  The apple offers a sweet smoothness to the overall cup – and it’s a bit like apple cider with a heavy infusion of maple flavor.

But what is wonderful about it is that even though it is sweet, it is not cloying.  It has a wonderful, warming taste that is truly comforting.

A friend sent me some of this tea, and as I sit here sipping it, I can’t help but feel a little wistful that it is no longer available.  It is one of the best teas/tisanes I’ve tried from Teavana.

Chocolate and Ginger Spice from TeaFrog

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Spice Melange

Where to Buy:  TeaFrog

Company Description:

Ingredients: Chicory Roasted, Chocolate Pieces, Cacao Pieces, Red Peppercorns, Ginger Pieces

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the most unusual spice “melange” teas/tisanes that I’ve come across.  The chocolate flavor is sweet yet savory, and the spices enhance that savory experience.

I’m getting peppery, warm spice taste, as well as deep, roasted flavor.  I like the way these tastes come together… it is spicy, but not too spicy… sweet, but not too sweet.  And the roasty-toasty flavor that I’m getting from the chicory is more of a background note, so it doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors.

And then there is the CHOCOLATE!  And that is what attracted me to this blend in the first place.  The chocolate is rich and is what I would call a mix of semi-sweet chocolate morsels and a high quality cocoa powder.  Just enough bitter, just enough sweet, just enough savory to make this a delightful chocolate-y cocoa experience!

If I were to change anything about this particular blend, I’d add more chocolate.  Perhaps some cacao shells?  This would really add some deep, rich, chocolate flavor.

But, other than wanting more chocolate (and I ALWAYS want more chocolate) I really like the way this melange comes together.  It’s a nice fusion of flavors!

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