Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed below were provided to me at no cost from Smiley360 in exchange for my honest review. You can join Smiley360 here!
Being a member of the Smiley Blogger Circle earned me an invitation some time ago to sample and review several Tazo® Chai products. I’ve been familiar with Tazo and its tea products for years, and am unique in my household for the great pleasure I’ve been known to take in a cup of chai tea. An opportunity to sample not just one, but a range of chai from a recognized producer was more than enough to interest me.
A few days after accepting the invitation, I received my Tazo® Chai Sweet Meets Spicy Tasting Kit containing sample filterbags of Tazo Classic Chai, Tazo Vanilla Caramel Chai, and Tazo Chocolate Chai, as well as a sampling of Tazo Vanilla Caramel Chai Latte concentrate. Because the pleasure of sipping tea can be doubled by good company and food (though admittedly this is true of most things in life) I assembled some like-minded tasters and snacks to accompany the pours.
In instances that find me sampling a variety of a particular product’s flavors and/or styles in one sitting, I always begin with its classic iteration. This found me pouring the Tazo Classic Chai first. Counting cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, star anise, and cloves among its ingredients, the steeping Classic Chai filled the room with powerful aromatics right away. Chief among these were the cinnamon, clove, and star anise, a blending that always calls the holidays to mind for me. I found its spice level pleasant and potent, as did my co-tasters; a bit more pronounced without added milk (as one would expect), but enjoyable enough on its own that I was not alone in thinking it tasted as good with sugar as without. This is a very good rendition of everything I expect chai to be.
Up next was Tazo Vanilla Caramel Chai. Some disagreement ensued here, as I found this to be the weakest of the three filterbag offerings. While its aromatic suggestions of vanilla, caramel, ginger, and licorice root were marked, not all of these were as declarative on some of our palates, mine included, as on others. Vanilla being at times subtler, taking a more supporting role when combined with other flavors, my initial thought was that perhaps I’d erred in my chosen tasting order, and should have taken this one before something as potent as the standard chai. A second sampling hours later, however, did not alter my view. The taste of caramel, while also somewhat understated, was more easily detectable than the vanilla, which seemed to take a backseat to it and even to the taste of the black tea itself. The Tazo Vanilla Caramel Chai filterbag was by no means an unpleasant sip, it just was not the most expressive. The same would not prove to be true of its latte concentrate form, though I’ll address that shortly.
The Tazo Chocolate Chai impressed me the most of the filterbag sampling trio. Redolent with cocoa, cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper, its aroma offered up what I felt was the truest indication of what complexity to expect of the product’s flavors. The cardamom, yerba mate, cloves, and licorice root listed among its ingredients all made their respective presences known on tasting, and blended in a manner that conveyed an agreeable creaminesss of texture that I could not have anticipated. I drank the most of this flavor, taking several cups black, without sugar, because the mild inherent sweetness of chocolate made further sweetening feel unnecessary.
The last item I poured at the gathering, and the one I’ve returned to most often since that initial tasting, has been the Tazo Vanilla Caramel Chai Latte liquid concentrate. Blending equal parts concentrate and hot milk results in a rich, spicy beverage with a degree of nuance that seems more impressive for being born of a pre-mixed liquid as opposed to a traditional brewing. The most pleasing aspect for me remains that while pre-sweetened, it manages to achieve the perfect balance of sugar and spice intensity where similar products might lean too far in one direction or the other. This was the standout tea of the gathering, and for me, of the tasting kit overall.
In Tazo Chai, Sweet meets Spicy with generally positive and satisfying results that I look forward to revisiting. I would purchase with confidence from Tazo, both for my own sipping enjoyment, as well as for serving to company with breakfast, brunch, or after dinner. Learn more about Tazo’s extensive and flavorful product line at www.tazo.com, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.