Review: Up N’ Atom Chai Organic Black

Black Tea, Cardamom Tea, Chai Tea, Cinnamon Tea, Clove Tea, Pepper Tea, Up N Atom Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!" It brewed the same way a ginger tisane would after a ten-minute decoct. Thankfully, the blend smelled like a chai; a total spicesplosion."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.5/10
Other Teaviews: Troy gave it 8/10, Laura gave it 9/10, Lynn gave it 10/10, Erika gave it 9/10, Chelsy gave it 7.1/10, Katie gave it 9.2/10, Raven gave it 8.4/10
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upnatomlogoWhen I first looked upon this blend, I thought it was an herbal concoction. Ingredients listed were Indonesian-grown cinnamon and ginger, cardamom pods, allspice (whatever that means), Chinese black tea (no type specified), cloves, and black pepper. The last bit inspired a "Huh?" Since when was pepper a masala chai additive? I was hard-pressed to find any actual "tea" tea in it. However, the spices were in full-frontal abundance. The aroma was strongly cardamom-ginger-ish. It sorta resembled holy basil to the nose.

The brewing instructions were unorthodox to my occidental eye. Up N' Atom's rather basic website suggested to simmer water for thirty minutes with the spices...and then let it rest overnight. At least, that was what I garnered from it. In short, I thought it was way too complicated, and I didn't have that kind of time. Thus, my flavorful experience might not turn out to be the "ideal" scenario.

I opted for something simpler, since I was trying this at work. I took a tablespoon of the small sample I possessed, steeped it in 8oz of hot water for thirty minutes. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it like a time-rushed, paycheck-to-paycheck, overclocked, overstressed, underwhelming American. Masala chai is a burly blend. If it can't be played with, what can?

After a good thirty-minute steep, the liquor of the unsweetened/un-milked chai blend by itself was - well - yellow-fog. The lack of an actual black tea base was certainly evident in the liquor. It brewed the same way a ginger tisane would after a ten-minute decoct. Thankfully, the blend smelled like a chai; a total spicesplosion. And after thirty minutes, the water was relatively lukewarm, so the tea itself was relatively mild. Being a masala chai Layman, this didn't really bother me. I blame the mild temperature on the receptacle I stored it in, not the quality of the ingredients. The true test was how it would take milk and sweetener.

I poured the 8oz liquid medley into a 12oz cup, added 4oz of milk and Sweet'n Low. Had to make do with that since I didn't have anything awesome like jaggery at my disposal. This is where it truly shined. It was spicy, creamy, sweet, and - dare I say - mellow. Most masala chais feel like a kick to the stomach. Some people like that sorta thing, and there's certainly a place for it. The mellowness might've been due to my lack of adherence to the recommended brewing instructions. Well, I did it my way, and it paid off.

— To purchase Up N’ Atom Chai Organic Black, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff
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7 Responses to “Review: Up N’ Atom Chai Organic Black”

  1. garimo Says:

    I have a couple coffeehouses that decided the best way to brew my chai spice was with a slow cook in a crock pot… don’t know the details of their method.

  2. Geoff Says:

    That would probably be a reliable method. That is…if I knew how to use a crock pot. *heh*

  3. Dan Says:

    Geoff, I’ve seen black pepper cropping up in a lot of masala chai, and was also somewhat surprised by it. I too only recently noticed this, but a bit of research shows that it’s actually been quite common for, um, centuries! 😉 Naturally every masala chai blend is different, but I guess I never really paid much attention for years and years and/or didn’t really encounter it until recently.

  4. Lynn Says:

    Glad to hear a short steep worked so well! I did the long way and got a dark brown liquor. Definitely worth it if you have the time.

  5. Lynn Says:

    PS, “allspice” is a spice, sort of a cross between ginger, mace and coriander.

  6. garimo Says:

    The only information on the black tea from the importer is:

    “Organic Black Tea 9873 Leaf
    This is a nice standard blend with a lustrous black leaf and a dark liquor with a pronounced honeysuckle and a muscatel nose. [Item # : C10007 | Origin: China | Color: Black | Grade: Leaf | Case Weight: 9.0 Kg / 20.0 Lb]”

    Some of my customers get the caffeine free spice blend and brew it without tea. Then when they want caffeine, they add a tea bag to their mug after they reheat the masala and drink it with out the tea if they don’t want the caffeine.

    wikipedia quote=
    “Preparation
    The simplest traditional method of preparing masala chai is to actively simmer or boil a mixture of milk and water with loose leaf tea, sweeteners, and whole spices. Indian markets all over the world sell various brands of “chai masala,” (Hindi ??? ????? [ch?y mas?l?], “tea spice” ) for this purpose, though many households blend their own. The solid tea and spice residues are strained off from masala chai before serving.
    The method may vary according to taste or local custom: for example, some households may combine all of the ingredients together at the start, bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately strain and serve; others may leave the mixture simmering for a longer amount of time, or begin by bringing the tea leaves to a boil and only add the spices toward the end (or vice-versa).”

    The way I first learned to brew chai on a commune in Pune, was first the spices & tea were boiled, then the milk was added and brought to a boil again and then the heat was turned off. At the time I thought the milk was boiled on the commune to do a built in pasteurization of the milk that in India isn’t something that one can take for granted like we do here in the states. I understand it’s a common practice of many chai makers and sometimes it’s called milk tea.

  7. Geoff Says:

    @Dan – Well, color me corrected. I did mention I was a bit of a masala chai Lay-person to start with. I’m guessing that every spiced tea blend I’ve run into up until now was the “quickie” way – like…fast food chai.

    @Lynn – Thanks for the information. I hadn’t run into the term “allspice” before. Only heard it in reference to cooking, but I figured it was just a spice blend. I still have some left, so I may try it the long way at some point. That is, if my brother doesn’t mind me hoggin’ the stove.

    @Garimo – I never knew so much went into that. Wow. And I wasn’t sligting the black tea base in the review, merely I was used to seeing a higher black-to-spice ratio. Trust me, I didn’t mind the spice abundance; preferred it, actually.

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