(Black tea from India, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pink peppercorns, cardamom, organic vanilla cream, natural ginger and cinnamon flavouring.)
In the 50’s, the Vietnam War disrupted the production of one of the finest spices on the market, Saigon cinnamon, but since the beginning of the early 21st century, Vietnam has since resumed export of the spice, including to the United States, where it was unavailable for nearly two decades! This type of cinnamon is used primarily for its aromatic bark, which has a taste quite similar to that of Chinese cinnamon, but with a more pronounced and complex aroma. In Saigon Chai, it is showcased in this “spicy” blend alongside a lot of the usual chai culprits (cardamom, ginger, cloves, etc.). Without the pops of colour delivered in the form of the cardamom pods and pink peppercorns, everything in this tea just blends into each other, but otherwise, every single ingredient is visible here. Before steeping, the dry nose is a lot stronger – a tiny bit sweet, full of spice, with the pepper nearly making me sneeze.
It brews to a nice, malty, reddish-brown colour, typical of a black tea (like Orange Pekoe or English Breakfast), once steeped for just under four minutes. The scent has since mellowed out, but you can certainly still smell the spices, especially the ginger and the cinnamon. It’s a real warm and comforting cuppa, you can taste the cloves amongst the strong cinnamon presence. The amount of cinnamon here actually reminds me somewhat of Cinnamon Rooibos Chai, while the Assam black tea base is not at all bitter; I would even consider letting this sit for a bit longer, closer to five minutes and up. Unfortunately, Saigon Chai comes off slightly bland straight up. Adding a vanilla sweetener and/or a splash of cream/milk to enhance the supposed vanilla cream flavouring is something I would definitely recommend doing. Overall, there are a lot of strong flavours featured in Saigon Chai, but at the end of the day, they all manage to blend well into this decent chai offering. Nothing particularly unique, but worth a shot just the same.