Review of Chai Masala

3 of 103 of 52 of 537 of 100

I first tried this tea on vacation, at a breakfast cafe in Stowe, VT, that was way overpriced for what's offered. That's a description fitting pretty much everything in the area except for the fabulous Piecasso Pizza and any of the Trapp Family's Austrian desserts. That I naively paid about three bucks for a small cup of this tea didn't affect my low "value" rating, since it's still overpriced at 47¢/sachet on the brand's website (as of this writing). Why is that?

For starters, the dry-bag and in-cup aromas are weak, the contents (even wet) fill less than half the sachet, and the flavor itself is faintly pleasant, but flatter than a bike tire that's driven over a bed of nails. To be sure, I begged an extra sachet and tried it at my hotel, which had good water...same result. It's heavy only on the bitter aspect of cinnamon, and has a faint taste of apples. I didn't see or taste cloves much—hard to tell it's there at all, unless finely chopped, in small quantities. Much more cloves and cardamom, spicier cinnamon, and a more robust base tea (which tasted far from a high-grade Assam), would help this blend out a lot. As chai goes, that's pretty much a "Blow it up and start all over!" suggestion, huh?

Filling the sachet completely, with the blend as it's currently formulated, wouldn't help much. I am sure there are far better self-proclaimed artisan teas out there. But if in western Vermont looking for good chai tea, go to the Trader Joe's in Burlington and get their store-brand "Spiced Chai", then take it into your favorite overpriced restaurant, ask for a big cup of hot water, and pretend you ordered an artisan tea. It will blow this stuff out of the water.

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