Okay, I’m finally back with a new review. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to be posting anything else here on Steepster since this place seems like it’s on life support and just barely hanging on, but I decided to go ahead and do so simply because I wanted to keep my backlog of reviews from growing any larger and also because I still like this place. For now, I’m unwilling to entirely give up on it. That being said, I am investigating some new forums for potential contributions to the tea world just in case Steepster goes belly-up. With all of that out of the way, I have some things to share. Those of you who get annoyed with personal updates in their tea reviews and have made it this far should get off this train now. This has been a hell of a week for me. It was a very heavy work week that started off with my credit card getting skimmed Monday. Then my debit card got hit Wednesday. Luckily, I was able to get assistance from my bank’s fraud protection department and was able to recoup the vast majority of my losses without interrupting my work schedule, but this experience led me to review my financial situation and also the extent of my online presence. I have known for some time that I spend way too much time on the internet and do way too much online shopping, so I took this opportunity to cut down on my online presence and expenses. Outside of Steepster, if it even really counts at all, I have done away with my social media presence and have been spending far less time online. I’ve been working on getting back in shape for the last month or so anyway, so my computer and phone time had been steadily tapering off, but I have reduced it even further. It was jarring at first, but cutting the cord felt wonderful. I’m a fairly grumpy, reserved, asocial person IRL. I tend to shy away from social gatherings and obligations and spend most of my time at home with my cats. Not having to deal with the flood of notifications and not feeling the constant urge to check my social media presence has been a breath of fresh air. I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have in several years. I’m less stressed, pessimistic, and angry. I don’t feel burdened by relationships that had become a chore. I feel like I can spend more time authentically interacting with the people I like and respect and with whom I share interests. I’m finally starting to make concrete plans regarding my future, have been taking better care of myself, and have begun to pick some of my older hobbies and interests back up. Make no mistake, I’ll still be around, but there is a good chance that my little breaks from Steepster will eventually grow longer and longer.
Well, now that I have written a novella, let’s talk about this tea. I’m not normally a chai guy, but this blend wasn’t bad. I tend to prefer my chai very spicy and herbal in character, so this was a little mild for my tastes. I could not help thinking that it was missing some characteristics that would make it more memorable. Overall, though, this was not bad.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I started off by steeping approximately 3 grams of the loose chai blend in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. For my first encounter with this tea, I did not use any additives of any kind. After trying it unadorned, I decided to see how it worked with an addition of 2% milk, so I again steeped about 3 grams of the chai mix in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes and then added a healthy splash of milk to try to tame it.
Prior to infusion, the dry chai blend emitted aromas of cardamom, fennel, and ginger. After infusion, I picked up aromas of cream, malt, caramel, and cocoa underscored by slightly muted cardamom, fennel, and ginger aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cardamom, fennel, and ginger on the entry before revealing impressions of cream, malt, wood, caramel, cocoa, and brown toast that were chased by hints of molasses just before the swallow. Cocoa, caramel, malt, molasses, ginger, fennel, and cardamom impressions were evident on the finish, which brought out noticeable bitterness and astringency as well as hints of roasted walnut. Trying this blend with an addition of 2% milk eliminated the astringency and tamed the bitterness somewhat, though it also seriously muted the fennel, ginger, and cardamom, coming across as a CTC Assam with just a pinch of chai spices added.
As stated above, this was not a bad packaged chai, but it also was not all that special either. I know I have said it before, but commercial blends like this can rarely if ever equal or beat real homemade chai. In the end, I suppose this was pretty good for what it was. I have certainly tried worse chai blends, and I could see people who prefer their chai milder and mellower than I generally do being into it, but I just couldn’t fall in love with this one.
P.S. I’m lazy. I have been sitting on this review since January.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Brown Toast, Caramel, Cardamom, Cocoa, Cream, Fennel, Ginger, Malt, Molasses, Walnut, Wood