Review of Bombay Chai

9 of 105 of 54 of 586 of 100
SuperbExcellentGood Value

I was a little uncertain what to expect here, since Murchie's teas generally are very good to excellent, but their bagged "Traditional Chai" offering was somewhat flat and disappointing. No worries..."Bombay Chai" lives up to the name, and is a worthy addition to the tea shelf on your pantry, especially if you like your chais rich and smooth more than sharp and intense. I like both, and this falls firmly into the former camp.

The photo (from Murchies' site) is fairly representative, except my batch has few (if any) of the red doodly-bobbers. Murchie's advertises that this tea is about 50% tea, 50% spices, and my bag may have slightly more spices than tea. The variety and volume of whole spices in here is large, and makes a very richly aromatic dry leaf and cup. There are a lot of fennel seeds, and most cups will end up with at least one or two clove buds. I didn't find much cinnamon; there's some, but it definitely takes a back seat, as does the ginger. Even though I like cinnamon, the relative paucity of it in this blend is OK for the sake of chai diversity, to counterbalance others I've had that were overly cinnamon-heavy. Black peppercorns are few in number and flavor influence too. Anise isn't dominant, but is very present, and balances out the other spices well.

"Bombay Chai" is lavishly festooned with fat little whole cardamom pods that seem to be of very good quality. Depending on how many shake out into your infuser, your cardamom flavor can vary a lot from cup to cup. Since I enjoy cardamom a lot, I'll do two things with whole chais that have pods:
1. Regulate...make sure there's at least one but not more than three in every cup, and
2. Split them open beforehand with fingernail, to ensure deepest infusion of the innards (seeds and inside husk). [As a curious aside, when I did the latter here, the wet pods swelled mostly shut again.]

This blend is quite deliberately not blended to bring the heat and snap at you; instead it is robustly mellow, almost creamy, and delicious, with a definite hint of vanilla (despite that not being a listed ingredient). The base tea is an Assam/Ceylon blend, lending an appropriate but not excessive level of bitterness, as a counterweight to the sweetness of the spices.

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