This tea is very much like a milder version of a traditional chai tea. Upon opening the package, I recognized some traditional chai spices such as green cardamom pods and pieces of cinnamon, and I could smell the very strong scent of cinnamon.
The cardamom pods are plentiful throughout the blend, and provide a strong aromatic presence to the tea, and a warm, spicy-sweet flavor to the blend. The cinnamon flavor is a bit less pronounced than the aroma hinted, but I felt it was fairly balanced with the cardamom.
Upton Tea Imports describes this tea as:
Fine India tea is blended with cocoa, cardamom, and a hint of cinnamon to produce a balanced and warming cup. A delicate treat for any chocolate or tea lover.
The cocoa, while it offers a very delicate presence to this tea, is smooth and sweet, and counteracts nicely with the strength of the black tea, cinnamon, and cardamom. However, I would not consider this to be a chocolate tea by any stretch of the imagination; the cocoa plays more of a supporting role to the sharper, key notes of the spices, and the bold, full-bodied tea.
Careful brewing of this tea is important, as I found out with my first attempt at brewing it. After allowing it to steep just 3 1/2 minutes I found the tea to be a bit bitter. I was much happier with the second attempt, steeping it for just 2 1/2 minutes: the flavor was strong and robust, but without the bitterness.
The second infusion of the tea leaves offers haunting notes of a cinnamon-y hot cocoa. The tea flavors mellow significantly, the cardamom is still strong, and the chocolate flavors are a bit stronger than the first infusion — perhaps a result of the softened tea flavor.
I quite enjoy this tea; it would be a great tea for the chai tea aficionado who wants something a bit more subdued than a typical chai, as well as for the tea devotee that is looking for a tea with a smooth yet spicy kick.
This tea benefits greatly from a touch of sweetener; it does not create a “sweet” beverage but does help bring out some of the more subdued chocolate flavor. Milk or cream is also a very nice addition.