Reviewer: Alex Zorach
✓ 1274 teas reviewed
✓ 6 of Rooibos Chai / Spiced Rooibos
✓ 20 of Stash Tea
✓ 287 of blends
Review of Spice Dragon Red Chai Herbal Tea
December 16th, 2016
The tea bag smells overwhelmingly like cinnamon and nothing else.
Upon brewing, the cinnamon is not quite as domineering, but it's still the principle aroma. I can smell the clove, but it's a struggle to notice the base rooibos. This herbal tea is initially smooth and easy to drink; there's little bitterness or astringency, but the mouthfeel is also a bit thin, which was disappointing because I think of cinnamon, clove, and ginger as three spices that all impart fairly strong palate sensations into a blend. The cinnamon makes it naturally sweet. As I drink more of the cup though, it produces a slightly unpleasant drying sensation at the back of the throat. The clove also makes my mouth tingle a bit.
Although this struck me as a relatively high-quality blend, it didn't fit my flavor or aroma aesthetics at all, and the sensations on the palate that it produced were strange rather than comforting. I like clove and ginger because they can hold their own against strong black teas used as the base for traditional masala chai blends, but they steamroll the rooibos's subtle earthiness.
Left to my own devices, if making my own masala chai blend, I would not even include cinnamon; I'd go primarily for cardamon and I'd also probably include a dash of peppercorns. If I wanted to go non-traditional I'd throw in nutmeg or mace, even coriander. For something like Rooibos, I'd really tone down the clove and ginger and go in a fundamentally different direction for the spice blend. (Think Rishi's West Cape Chai, one of my favorites) I love vanilla in rooibos chai blends.
This was interesting to try and review, but it was not a favorite and I would be unlikely to drink it again. A similar-ish blend that I thought was better was Capital Teas Rock Creek Red Chai, and for a blend where the Rooibos really comes through, I prefer the Chai Rooibos from Culinary Teas.