|" It was the strangest brew-up I've ever seen. The bottom of the clear mug was all ginger yellow, while the more auburn-to-brown black tea color hovered above it - dominant but...lighter? Weird."|
Ineeka has a specific - as they call it - "exclusive delivery system", which - in their own words - is a brew-taché that acts as "an individually packed infuser that contains pre-measured loose leaves for a superlative cup of tea." Directions were...difficult to find. Their website requires you to hover the mouse over highlighted words that access new Flash sections. No links, no text - it's quite cumbersome. And I'm not the sharpest teaspoon in the cupboard.
Instructions - once I was finally able to access them after some website flub-ups - called for the drinker to spread the "wings" of the brew-taché (trademarked term), prop the bag over the cup with the wings acting as supports, pour hot water in, and steep for three-to-five minutes. It took me a moment to even find the arrows to tear the bag open, but I did. In the end, it was fairly simple enough. It was just different...and I fear change.
The loose leaf batch itself was pleasant to the nose. I could make out the cardamom, ginger and saffron pieces instantly along with the black tea base. Cloves and peppers were a bit more troublesome to locate, but by the scent I assumed they were there. It was a spicy chai but not in an overpowering way. When the time finally came around to stop examining it, I heated water to about 205F and propped the brew-ta-thingy on a 16oz clear mug. I only infused for three minutes, though.
It is important to note that the much-touted wings on the brew-taché did not stay in place while I was pouring hot water over the bag and mug. One of the wings actually lost its footing. I had to prop the thing open with two fingers as I was pouring. Not the safest of methods.
After the three-minute wait was up, I examined the liquid. It was the strangest brew-up I've ever seen. The bottom of the clear mug was all ginger yellow, while the more auburn-to-brown black tea color hovered above it - dominant but...lighter? Weird. The steam was a pleasantly balanced aroma of black tea malt and succulent spices. I couldn't detect one particular herb that dominated. They all sort of melded together to complete the kick. The taste also had a surprising effect, seeming mild and relaxing on initial touchdown but jolted me upright with its spice-wallop mid-sip through. The Assam black tea base appeared to be of a lower quality, for it hit me with bold astringency. However, the spices worked favorably to lesson the dry-mouth impact.
As far as masala chai goes, this is a lighter one. Perhaps brewed at a full five minutes it packs more of a punch, but at a subtle three it balances just right. I didn't add milk for fear of taking away from the natural flavor, since the brew was so fragile. Besides some initial trouble with the tea delivery mechanism - nifty though it may be in theory - it turned out to be a pleasant way to warm up. Especially in winter weather similar to carbonite freezing.
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