Sunday, 6 July 2008

Chai Review 2 - Hari Har Chocolate Chai

I have finally got around to brewing up a pot of the second tea to feature in my chai masala reviews - the Hari Har Chocolate Chai.

This is labelled 'chocolate chai' because of the inclusion (amongst other things) of cocoa powder, although I must say that I've never found that it tastes particularly chocolatey. I think, though, that as I'm getting to the bottom of my packet the cocoa powder has been a bit more concentrated, as today I did notice a bit of a chocolate taste in it. It's not strong though, which is a bit of a pity, because I actually think that the combination of tea and chocolate would be quite a good one.

This tea as you will hopefully see from the picture below is made with a very finely cut leaf. The tea itself is grown in the Daintree Region of Queensland, Australia, the only place where tea is grown in this country I believe. The packet claims that the tea from Daintree is 97% caffeine free and tannin free. I'm not entirely sure whether these claims are legitimate (particularly given the difficulties associated with trying to ascertain caffeine levels), but let's not worry too much about this on a Sunday morning. The tea also contains nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and licorice root, all very finely powdered.

So I brewed it up in my usual way (following the packet instructions) - bring 1 tsp to boil per half cup of water, and then add half a cup of milk and reheat slowly (not letting it boil this time). This takes only about 5 minutes or so for such small quantities. The tea is richer-coloured than the T2 chai, possibly partly because of the addition of the cocoa and possibly because of the leaf being more finely cut, which means you get more per teaspoon I suppose. I have to say I prefer a darker-coloured chai, although I have no idea why.

I made sure to use low fat milk like I used for the one at work, to try and ensure that the mouthfeel would remain similar and the results be consistent. However I did notice that this tea felt much creamier and thicker in my mouth than the other, and I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I brewed it in a saucepan rather than just steeping it in a teapot? I'm not sure.

So: the big question - how did it taste? I have been drinking this blend for a long time so it was an interesting experience to turn my attention to it fully. It produces a lovely creamy smooth tea, but I feel that there is no one particular flavour that really stands out and grabs your attention in the way that the cloves did in the T2 one. Overall it's a very subtle taste, a gentle warm spice. Probably the cinnamon is the most noticeable thing, but it's still very mild. The tea is not astringent even after relatively strong brewing (maybe there really aren't any tannins in there), although the milk would help prevent that in any case. It's warming and comforting, which is the main thing I'm looking for when I drink this tea. I didn't sweeten it, because I usually don't anyway, but a teaspoon of honey also goes very well in this particular brew.

I really recommend this one, it has been my favourite chai masala blend to date. Stand by for the third instalment of the chai masal reviews - Oriental Tea House Chai!

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