This tea isn’t labeled as chai on the box, but that’s what it is. The flavor is provided by the archetypal chai blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves, plus a few other spices, against a base of chicory root and carob. Using the chicory root and carob instead of tea leaves makes this a caffeine-free blend, and a great choice for late-night sipping.
I have mentioned before that one of the reasons I enjoy Celestial Seasonings’ teas (despite that we tea snobs are not supposed to like mass-market tea bags) is their use of chicory in many of their teas. I’m a chicory fan. As a base for a non-caffeinated tea, it is darker and has more of an edge and more of a roasted flavor than rooibos does, and the roasted carob in this adds to the roasted flavor – altogether a deeper background than a rooibos-based chai.
It’s a very warm chai, with the naturally sweet cinnamon flavor dominating. Along with the usual chai spices, there’s nutmeg, which for many Americans invokes all the comfort foods of childhood: rice pudding, egg custard, hot cocoa, mulled apple cider, and other things where the final touch is a dash of nutmeg on top. There’s also vanilla in this blend, which adds to the warmth and natural sweetness. This chai doesn’t need any added sugar, although a pinch of it won’t hurt anything, either.
Another thing I like about a chicory-based chai is that I don’t like the taste of milk with rooibos, but I find it goes well with chicory and carob, so that this chai can be enjoyed in the tradition with-milk fashion. Milk also goes well with the vanilla flavoring and nutmeg – really, hints of that childhood egg custard along with the chai!
Celestial Seasonings describes this tea as:
“Brimming with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves, a cup of our aromatic Bengal Spice tea is like a trip to an exotic spice market in a faraway land. This adventurous blend is our caffeine-free interpretation of Chai, a piquant Indian brew traditionally made with black tea. Try Bengal Spice with milk and sugar for a true Chai experience.” — Charlie Baden, Celestial Seasonings Blendmaster Since 1975
Ingredients: Cinnamon, roasted chicory, roasted carob, natural spice and vanilla flavors with other natural flavors, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg.
If you are looking for chai that is full-bodied, yet completely caffeine-free (and gluten-free, and kosher, by the way), this is a great choice. And since it’s in the convenient form of tea bags, it is even easier to use late at night, when you might not want to fuss with infusers and such.
Since the bags are not individually wrapped, just stacked inside a waxed-paper lining in the box, they aren’t protected from air, so once you open a box, you’ll want to use all the bags within 3 months, since otherwise they might get stale.