Today I am looking at Golden Chai, an herbal blend by Australian tea company Organic Merchant, it is not often that I get boxes from Australia, so that was quite novel! It blends turmeric, calendula, cinnamon, clove, cardamon, ginger, fennel, star anise, and black peppercorns for a very colorful, golden blend, it is a perfect thing to drink on a cold winter night because the color of the dry material looks like a summer afternoon. The aroma is pretty intense, strong notes of spices, especially the cardamon, fennel, and pepper with pleasant earthy undertones from the turmeric. There is a hint of wildflower like floral notes from the calendula, but mostly these petals are used as pretties since they don't add much (one of the reasons they frequently show up in blends.) I really like how strong the pepper and cardamon notes are, I love blends that have those ingredients and often find they are too weak for my liking, so its oomph made me happy.
A tea this colorful needed a glass teapot for sure, one of the really awesome things about turmeric is how vibrant the color is, I use it a lot in my curries to add bitter earthiness and to mellow out some of the other stronger spices while also adding pops of color. The aroma of the steeped blend is strong with notes of pepper and clove with underlying notes of earthiness and anise with a touch of distant flowers and mango which was a pleasant surprise. The vibrant liquid smells of cloves, cardamon, and turmeric with undertones of pepper and anise, it is sweet and spicy, quite pleasant if you are a fan of these things, which I very much so am.
I decided to first try this tea completely unaltered, no milk or sugar like you would normally have a chai, and I can say it is bitter, but a lot of these spices are when brewed straight, one of the reasons that chai has sugar and milk (also because it bulks up a meal and provides nutrients, the origin of most milky teas.) The bitterness is actually kinda pleasant, not the tannic bitterness of a ruined cup of tea, or the bile like bitterness of hops, it is bitter in an earthy and grainy fashion that adds a really fascinating depth to culinary experiments. I decided to add some honey, and it was a fantastic choice because that little bit of sweetness causes this blend to explode with depth! Cloves, peppers, turmeric, ginger, gentle wildflower, anise and fennel notes dance in a chaotic golden cascade in my mouth. This is definitely the right combination of intense flavors, part of me is curious what it would be like with a touch of cumin and fenugreek, but I think that is because I am eating samosas while writing this and have discovered this is a particularly tasty pairing.
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.