Review of Rock Creek Red Chai

8 of 104 of 53 of 573 of 100

An intriguing blend, very different from the other two examples of Rooibos chai that I've tried, the ones from Culinary Teas and from Wegmans. The final of three Capital Teas samples that my parents were given as a gift, which they let me try. Excellent with milk, not so much without.

Dry leaf smells intensely of clove, and also has a vanilla-like fragrance, and some earthy tones, both presumably from the rooibos. The spice blend smells quite different from a typical Masala chai. The description references cardamom but it's not in the ingredient list, nor do I see (or smell) any in the tin.

Upon brewing, without milk, produces a rich, dark-colored cup. Very spicy, peppery from the ginger, with a strong tingly sensation from the clove as well. I notice mostly cinnamon and clove in the aroma, with only hints of anise and the base rooibos. Prepared this way, I thought this blend was a little harsh, the peppery sensation of the ginger was a bit too much for me, and the spices seemed imbalanced, too dominated by the clove.

I also tried preparing this with milk, and the results were surprisingly different, and much better, so much I'd say that this blend might even be wasted drinking it without milk.

The milk produces a surprisingly light-colored cup, much paler than when adding milk to black tea. In this cup, the anise really comes out, and the edge is taken off the ginger and the clove. The cinnamon's aroma is downplayed, but its sweetness seems increased. I also find the fruity qualities in the rooibos come out more this way.

The spices that seemed out-of-whack without milk seemed to become perfectly balanced with the addition of milk. I used only about 1 part milk to 4 parts water and added no sweetener.

Delightful as a bedtime drink. With milk, I found it very soothing. My only complaint is that it seemed a bit pricey for the ingredients...I can get all the raw ingredients, organic certified, for about a third the price. As this one is not organic, as good as the blending is, I'd feel better about it if its price were reduced a little bit, maybe by about 30% or so, especially since cardamom is noticeably absent (and that's the ingredient that usually drives up the price of chai).

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