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Taste test: Chai tea

Chai tea has long been touted as a healthy drink for its blend of black tea, herbs and spices including ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, clove and black pepper. We sampled six brands of the tea, most of which included nearly all of the above spices. Hot or cold, the teas were pleasant and all had a hint of individuality. In the end, judges preferred the stronger teas with distinctive flavors.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Bigelow 86Lipton 73Simply Balanced 53

The spices in this tea blended to a flavor that resembled chocolate. "It's almost a hot chocolate — sweet and aromatic," said one judge. "I could slurp up this one by the gallon." Other judges favored the deeper color of this black tea and "a floral scent." One said it would be the perfect drink for "me" time.Judges labeled this drink as "good, old-fashioned tea." They liked the pleasing color, comforting flavor and slight hint of lemon in the brew. "This is a tea that asks for no sweetener," said one panelist. Another judge liked this drink because it tasted more like black tea and less like a spiced drink, adding, "It's really pleasant."Cinnamon was an overwhelming flavor in this spiced tea. "It almost tastes like a holiday tea," said one judge. "It should be served with a wreath and mistletoe." This tea was a bit weaker than some of the others, but judges were pleased with the flavorings. "It's just enough to be a treat," said one. "It's soothing tea."

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.32 for a 1.73-ounce box of 20 bags from Walmart.$2.12 for a 1.3-ounce box of 18 bags from Walmart.$3.29 for a 1.41-ounce box of 20 from Target.

Also Sampled: Tazo ($3.48 for a 1.9-ounce box of 20 bags from Walmart, 37 points); Stash ($2.38 for a 1.3-ounce box of 20 bags from Walmart, 32 points); Celestial Seasonings ($2.48 for a 2.2-ounce box of 20 bags from Walmart, 16 points).

Panelists: Kay Hodnett, personal chef; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All teas were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving size8 ounces8 ounces8 ounces
Fat/Fiber0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 0mg0g / 0mg0g / 0mg
Carbs/Protein0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g

Taste test: Chai tea 03/24/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2014 10:26am]
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