Tea Review – tea India Masala Chai

Hello again! Another tea review :). A bit later than I hoped – it’s been a bit of a stressful couple of weeks and other things have had to take priority.

tea India Masala Chai box (front) Source: this is the second of two teas that I was very kindly sent by tea India  to review for the blog (you can see my review of their black tea here). I understand it’s on sale in some Tesco/Booths stores. If you go on the tea India website you can search for stockists in your area here.

The tea itself may or may not come from India (it doesn’t cite a source on the box; information I have received about ethics from them stated “We carefully source our raw ingredients from different parts of the world, including India, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania & other African countries, China and other Herb & Tea Growing regions”).

Cost: £2.39 for 40 bags is what I’ve been told.

tea India side of box showing ingredients list (black tea 62%, ginger root, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, star anise)Ethics: before posting the previous tea review, I couldn’t find any information about ethics on their website and therefore emailed to ask questions – and got answers; you can read fuller details of the emails I received on the previous tea review here.

The situation as I understand it is this: Tea India is a part of Keith Spicer (presumably this Keith Spicer? It;’s a tea company in the right area – Dorset – but I can’t find any mention of tea India on that website). Keith Spicer is a member of the Ethical Trade Initiative. The Ethical Trade Initiative works towards better conditions for workers etc etc but doesn’t guarantee any particular standard. (I don’t know a great deal about the Ethical Trade Initiative; if you want to know more I suggest reading around on their website or doing your own research).

In my opinion, this puts its ethics at “a lot better than nothing, but not as good as Fairtrade (which is applied to a product not a company and tells you some definite things about that product)”. I’m also disappointed that the ethics aren’t cited at all on the website. I think this is a huge shame. Admittedly it’s not like tea India are the only tea company to do this; e.g. I’ve just gone and looked for information on the Whittard website and can’t find it there either despite the fact that they used to have something vague on there.

Brewing Instructions: 3-5 minutes, boiling water. Standard stuff.

Appearance: Not as red as the tea India black tea … to be honest it just looks … like tea. Sorry. That’s not particularly descriptive; but it is true (take a look at the photos and see what you think).

Tea brewed without milk

Tea brewed with milk

Nose: before adding milk – spice. I find it hard to describe it except as “chai”: on concentrating I could detect cinnamon and cardamom and “there’s more than just cinnamon and cardamom there but I can’t make out any other individual things”. (After adding milk, as always, it was much harder to smell anything)

Taste: Without milk – can taste the spices, but it tastes a bit … thin? To be fair, I believe it’s designed to be taken with milk. With milk – more depth, and you can still taste the spices, giving a warm undertone. Mostly tastes of “general chai type spices” rather than being able to pick out particular spices, which is a shame as it makes the tea less interesting.

Food match: sweet things, I think. Brownies or biscuits or cookies.

Overall: this is … a perfectly pleasant chai. I like chai. It’s fine. But to be honest, I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about it – which is a shame, as I really enjoyed their black tea, and hoped that this would be similarly good. But unfortunately … it’s not. I do prefer it to the pukka black spiced chai, but I don’t think it’s as good as the Marks and Spencer Chai (my current favourite chai is “Pure Chai” from the golden monkey tea company in Warwick (I don’t know if you can buy it on their website or not as I bought it in store)). Given that the M&S chai is also widely available, pretty much the same price and Fairtrade, I’d have to recommend buying that one over this one (with apologies to the lovely people at tea India who sent me this tea to review!).

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