Review of West Cape Chai (Rooibos Chai)

7 of 105 of 55 of 580 of 100
Very GoodExcellentOutstanding

Like most of Rishi's blends, I really liked this one.

For some reason, I expected this rooibos "chai" to be similar to Rishi's "regular" Masala Chai, a blend that I think is top notch and that nearly everyone I talk to seems to agree with me about. But this blend is completely different. I don't like it quite as much, but it's definitely up there.

Even the dry leaf/spice mix is completely different...the hint of peppermint is immediately evident, but it's just a hint, not enough to overwhelm. The fennel and anise are also evident in the dry leaf, and possibly some ginger. It's hard for me to discern the other ingredients though: this blend is very complex and has a lot going on. I LOVE how this tea smells dry though...I just want to keep sticking my nose in the bag.

The recommended amount for steeping seemed large--two tablespoons per 12 ounce water. I would not use quite that much, although I did use a lot more than I would use for pure tea (or pure rooibos).

The brewed cup is complex, and oddly subdued. The cup is a rich red color, and has a crisp mouthfeel and brisk flavor, yet the aroma is subtle and much less pungent than in a typical masala chai (certainly than in Rishi's blend). I find the cinnamon and clove come out more in the aroma upon brewing than in the dry mix. Very strongly reminiscent of Indian food--more so than most masala chai.

The finish is more gingery than the aroma. Leaves a tingly sensation on the palate.

I tried this straight, without milk or sugar, and enjoyed it both ways. With milk added (I used whole milk and no sweetener), I find it tastes a lot more like a traditional masala chai, but ironically, I also find that milk brings out the rooibos flavor. Milk seems to obscure the peppermint's aroma, but bring out the fennel and anise. I prefer a long steeping (8+ min) if adding milk, but I still don't use the full 2 tablespoons of leaf that Rishi recommends.

Thank you to E. Alexander Gerster for this one!

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