Think back to the first time you ever heard about chai.
If it was while standing in a coffee shop, where a chai was a blend of black tea, spices, milk, sugar and possibly ice, all whipped up into a frenzy, you’re not alone. But that’s pretty far from what we’re offering you when you buy a box of our Organic Mountain High Chai.
The origins of our chai tea date back to the first days of this company. Founder and CEO Richard Rosenfeld now says chai is an essential tea to have as part of the line. “You can’t have a tea company without having a chai,” he says. “But I looked at what was available on the market, and it was dominated by chai concentrates. Sugary nastiness – that’s how a lot of people learned what chai is. But I love the idea of chai that is pure tea and spices.”
A little background: in South Asia, the word “chai” just means “tea.” Spiced tea, as we know it, is actually “masala chai.” And what is that? It is black tea mixed with spices including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and pepper, in many variations.
Throw those spices together in the sachet with some black tea and – poof! – good chai, right? Oh no, says Richard. It’s not that simple.
“We have a limited amount of space and weight in any teabag,” Richard says. So it can be a tricky mix in that small space to get everything just right. In fact, he recently reformulated our blend of chai, because he says it wasn’t robust enough.
“I knew I needed to make the tea more robust when I saw Bess, our resident chai drinker, with two bags of tea in her cup,” he said. “I loved the spice, but there was not enough tea in there to balance it out. And that’s the difficulty with chai — balancing the tea flavor with spice flavors.”
So how did he fix the problem, given the relatively small size of our tea sachets? Richard ordered some tea to be specially cut for the Mountain High Chai sachets. Although typically, two leaves tea is whole-leaf, in this case, cutting some leaves created more surface area, making its flavor stronger. In addition, the blend now includes some cinnamon oil, removing some cinnamon bark in the sachet that was taking up too much room.
Have you had the new blend of Mountain High Chai? It takes a while for new blends to make it to the store, but you can get the newest incarnations of our tea on our website. And read more about our behind-the-scenes adventures in blending tea here!
Are any of you big fans of our Mountain High Chai?
Dodie JacobiDecember 7, 2011 at 3:12 am
Two Leaves and a Bud has been my VERY favorite Chai of all Taim! Now you’ve thrown the gauntlet by changing the blend. Can’t wait to try the new one.
ElizabethDecember 7, 2011 at 5:23 am
I loved Mountain High Chai before the new blend. I can’t wait to try the new one.
What is the way that you recommend brewing Chai?
christyDecember 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm
Hi Elizabeth – So glad you like the Chai. We suggest getting the water to a full boil and steeping the tea for three minutes. If you like, try adding milk and honey. But most of us here drink it just plain. Maybe we’re just purists! Thanks, and enjoy!