Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Justea, African Chai
Our African Chai is whole leaf Kenyan black tea with organic African spices and rose/safflower petals.
“The fennel, clove, coriander and liquorice root makes this chai smooth and silky on the palate. This African chai is balanced – it has a tea hit first and then a sweet finish”
~Brendan Waye, Tea Sommelier
Sample provided by Justea
This is my third sample from JusTea. The first two, both loose leaf prepared in the orthodox method, were very good. The majority of all black tea is grown in Kenya but almost all of it is ground to dust and put in a tea bag. I had no idea how amazingly tasty it could be when processed in this manner.
I am a bit anxious about this review. I am not a big chai fan. I drink it on occasion but never really crave it. Removing the top of the sample pouch introduces me to the spicy aroma of this tea. I actually find the scent appealing. First I notice clove and it briefly reminds me of Constant Comment. The similarity ends there as I next get notes of fennel, maybe pepper and cinnamon. Neither are listed as ingredients so it may just be my mind trying to comprehend all the aromas.
I used about 2 tsp in my press with 190 F water and steeped for 3 minutes. The result is an orange brew that makes me think fall. The air outside is quite cool today so perfect timing. The wet leaf has more of a potpourri smell.
Wow, the sip is nothing like the dry or wet aroma. My first thought was hot spiced apple cider. There is a pepperiness late in the sip that adds adventure to the sip. I could see the rose and safflower petals expand while brewing but I cannot single them out in the cup. I was curious how the fennel and licorice would play out as I understand not everyone likes these flavors. You needn't fear, they also do not over exert themselves. The tea base is mostly sensed in the aftertaste. Sipping through half the cup I stand by my original thought of hot spiced apple cider.
At this point I added a splash of milk. It is my understanding the traditional method of preparing chai is to boil the tea in the milk. Not going to try doing it that way. The splash of milk turned the cup a cloudy vanilla caramel color. It changed the flavor as well. Now it more resembles what I picture when I think of chai. I don't know the spice flavors well enough to explain it better.
Honestly, I can't tell you if this is good chai because it is not a type of tea I understand enough to know. I can say the Kenyan black tea and Kathryne Earl Grey were both excellent in my opinion. Based on those teas I fell comfortable recommending this one. I would drink it without the milk as I really liked the spicy cider taste.
A note on JusTea. They are a non-profit organization whose goal is to train the local Kenyan farmers to process the leaf themselves. This will allow the farmers to earn more from their farms, giving them the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. This is an excellent program worthy of support. The bonus for the tea drinker is Kenyan tea properly processed is really, really, good.
Visit the JusTea website to help a good cause.