This tea is wonderfully fragrant
This tea is my favorite of all of the MF teas. It has a wonderful scent, is warm, and has a lovely bit of spicy heat at the end. No one flavor is overpowering; but a nice blend of clove, cinnamon, ginger, pepper. I don't taste the cardamom necessarily, but the whole blend is lovely. This is my go-to tea.
I love maraige freres teas. I love chai tea. When I opened this and smelled it, my first thought was that something had gone bad in the tea. Then I checked the date 2021-- so nothing wrong there. I brewed it, hoping it would taste better. It's as smooth as you would expect from such a high end tea, and if I held my nose, I could drink it. But once I smelled it, had to stop drinking -- and where's the fun in that? I hate that I"m going to have to find a new home for this tea since it was *not* cheap! I think this is just the chance you take when ordering something you've only read about on-line, but for this chai love, I honestly think this is one of the worst chais I've ever had. Onward and upward!
The namesake of this blend was a French trading post in far eastern India, founded in the late 17th century. Evidently the French in those days had a strong taste for cloves, because that is the eclipsing aroma of this blend.
Clove buds lend the crucial base-note to any good chai. This blend has plenty of such depth, further articulated by peppercorns and a tease of ginger What it lacks, to my taste in chai, is the clarity of mid- and high-note spices such as cinnamon and cardamom, whose supporting roles in this blend are cameos at best. The base tea itself is innocuous, lending body but not much else.
But this is a matter of balance and I suppose what is a flaw of balance to one tea drinker may be another's preference. The only real flaw of this tea is a distracting musty aroma (likely due to the high proportion of cloves) to the dry leaf that persists in the finished brew.
On the positive side, it's very hard to over-steep and the crushed peppercorns give it a warming bite.
This is an austere chai: dark, heavy, pungent, and dry. If you are a cloves fanatic (or plan on serving this tea with a dessert that would complement such aromatics), this might be your cup.
Chandernagor, is my favorite chai. As with all Mariage Freres teas, the flavors are full, balanced and clean. Once you experience MF teas, it will be difficult to fall in love with other brands. The only way it can get better is to have Chandernagor in the muslin sacs available online. If you've never experienced Mariages Freres teas, know that the MHF buyer does a great job at choosing the best flavors of the brand. You can't go wrong.
Be sure to visit their original tea salon in the 4th/Le Marais should you find yourself in Paris.