Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Chi Whole Leaf, Tea Powder

Taking a short break from Matcha Madness to introduce you to a similar concept in Chi Whole Leaf Tea and their herbal powdered 'teas'. Each of their blends is a mix of herbs and spices (or tea leaves in Green Mint), ground into a fine powder. They are prepared simply by whisking them into water similar to how you prepare matcha.

Currently there are five selections in the product line - Ginger Chai, Yerba Mate, Green Mint, Floral Herb, and Chamomile. Green Mint contains Darjeeling green tea blended with herbs. Green Mint and Yerba Mate both contain caffeine. The rest are caffeine free.

Each of these powder blends can be stirred into hot or cold water like matcha. Of course you could also use a touch of milk and sweetener for a latte.

The sample packets look tiny, but I quickly found there is enough powder for a few cups. It only takes 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of powder.

At the time of this writing, Chi Whole Leaf is giving away samples of all 5 blends. They are that sure we will like it enough to order more. Let's find out.

Samples provided by Chi Whole Leaf

On To The Sampling:

This is a blend of Darjeeling green tea, peppermint, eucalyptus leaf, and milk thistle. I used about 3/8 tsp in 6 ounces of water heated to, well, it was intended to be 160 F, but the kettle got away from me, so, it is more like 180 F.

The powder is a brown tinted green. It is very fine and mixed easily. The cup is a bit different than your usual cup of green tea. It is a murky muddy green, but honestly, some of the culinary matcha I have had look very similar.

I first tasted this without additives. The mint is the predominant flavor and is cooling and refreshing without overwhelming the senses. I can't separate the green tea from the eucalyptus. They blend well with the mint and the mix of flavors emerges mid sip. I do taste the tea in the aftertaste. There is no bitterness or rough edges present in the taste.

This is similar to a Moroccan mint, which is traditionally served very sweet like southern sweet tea. I added Splenda. This really gives the peppermint a boost. It becomes much bolder and fills your senses with cooling mint.

Next, I used a 3/8 tsp in a water bottle with 6 ounces of cold water. Put the lid on and shook the bottle. Cool way to prepare it! It mixed extremely well and foamed up even better. Immediately, you know this is peppermint, but it is nicely subdued yet cooling. I can now make out the eucalyptus. I have never had it before and it is a bit difficult to describe. It is kind of spicy, maybe like mint, licorice, and ginger. I can also taste the tea. Yeah, cold is the way to go with this one. Very refreshing. It disappeared quickly.        

This is a blend of yerba mate, licorice root, ginkgo, and eleuthero root, ground into a fine brownish tinted powder. Tasting the dry powder, I notice it seems very sweet. It also has an almost rooibos taste to it combined with something a little more bitter. I used about 3/8 tsp in 6 ounces of water heated to 160 F. It mixed easily but would not hold a foam.

This makes for a brownish green tinted and murky cup. It reminds me of creek water when you stir up the bottom silt. Smells inviting though.

In tasting, I notice first a dusty earthiness. This is quickly followed by the sweetness of the licorice. The taste of the licorice is mild, so if you normally avoid it, you might find the level acceptable here.  

There really is no need to test this with sweetener. Even my super sweet tooth is satisfied. I find the juxtaposition of earthy and sweet interesting. I have never had yerba mate before so I am not sure what it is supposed to taste like. I'm pretty sure this isn't for everybody, but I am kind of digging it.

Next, I prepared this cold in a water bottle. Man, that makes such easy work of thoroughly mixing it, with the added benefit of turning it super foamy. I have to say though, with this one I preferred the hot version. The sweetness is much lower and the dusty earthiness is more potent. One neat difference is the addition of a fruit or floral note. I could not pin it down and only assume it is the ginkgo presenting itself.

This is a take on traditional Chai with a caffeine free rooibos base. It is a blend of rooibos, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. When the samples arrived, I could smell this one through the envelope. Word of caution - when you open the plastic sample bag, do not stick it under your nose to sniff. The fine powder will send cinnamon straight through your sinuses. Not that I tried this... more than once.

The dry powder is the color of rooibos. The dry taste is a pleasant balanced mix of all the ingredients. Same prep as before, 6 oz of 160 F water and 3/8 tsp of powder. I pretty much give up trying to make a lasting foam with a kitchen whisk. It just doesn't last. The color, not surprisingly is cinnamon and rooibos. It looks a bit like fresh apple cider.

The no additives taste is very mild. It is cinnamon/clove, and rooibos. This is nicely smooth with no harsh edges, but a little too light for my tastes. I added a little sweetener. Wow. That really brings out the heat in the ginger. Next because this is Chai, I added a splash of milk. Now, I really like this. The rooibos moves way to the back. This is gentle mix of cinnamom and clove with the ginger adding a touch of heat at the end.

Finally, I prepared this cold in a water bottle. This makes for a major foam head. The unaltered taste is much like the initial unaltered hot cup. It is not strong enough. Possibly more powder would fix this, but with the resources I have, my favorite was the hot cup with sweetener and milk.

This has the most ingredients of the set. Contains chamomile, peppermint, passionflower, St. John's Wort, and lemongrass. The dry powder is lightly sweet and tastes of peppermint and chamomile. It is very mild.

Prepared hot the same as previous cups. My wife, who is the herbal drinker in our house, said this needs to be hotter and needs strained. Hotter? Maybe, I was just using my matcha parameters. As for straining, the powder is so fine I don't know if straining is possible. maybe through a cloth of some kind - or a coffee filter. The chamomile in this does not fully dissolve. All of these have some grit. This has the most silt of all of them.

Despite the less than desirable appearance, the taste of this is pretty good. No additions, it is once again mild. I can make out the peppermint. Everything else kind of blends together. So the taste is muddy but pleasant. My wife agrees. Next I add just a touch of sweetener. Seriously, a touch. It was maybe 1/4 of a Splenda packet - the equivalent of 1/2 tsp of sugar. This really livens up the cup. I can separate the peppermint, chamomile, and lemongrass. It is still not a bold cup but it is relaxing. The chamomile does not drift into apple tartness (which I like and my wife does not). My wife asked if there was enough left for her to try at bedtime. So, foul ball with the dregs on this one, but a homerun taste wise.

I am not going to make a water bottle version. We both agree it is perfect as prepared with sweetener. Besides, mama needs her bedtime cuppa, and daddy is no fool.

This is the final sample. A blend of rose petals, hibiscus, and jasmine. The dry leaf has a dusty rose color. There is little dry scent to the sample. Dry, it tastes like rose. I used hotter water this round (180 F) in 6 oz with 3/8 tsp.

The powder mixed well, though as with all of these there is some sediment in the cup. The color in the cup reminds me of something I drank as a kid. It is kind of a fuchsia color. Definitely the prettiest of the bunch.

The sip starts gentle rose then turns tart from the hibiscus. It tastes OK. So I add 1/4 packet of Splenda and it breathes some air and space into the cup. As the cup cools, the hibiscus calms and I can catch just hints of the jasmine mixing with the
rose. My guess is this is the most likely candidate to be a hit with the herbal drink enthusiasts.

In the cold water bottle test, the taste was similar to the cooling hot cup. Again, I liked it best with a bit of sweetener. Not really my cup of herbal, but I think it may well be the most successful blend of the samples.

Wrap Up
Chi Whole Leaf has come up with a unique idea with these powdered blends.  As a tea drinker, my personal favorite was Green Mint. My wife, as the caffeine free herbal person, preferred the Chamomile. That said, I will again mention I believe Floral Herb is likely the most successful blend based on reviews and reactions from the Steepster crowd.

You can find the entire Chi Whole Leaf collection here.

1 comment:

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