Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Chai

A funny thing happens every time I walk into a Trader Joe's store. I magically transform into the pied piper of snacks. Chips, chocolates, and other tasty objects follow me down the aisles, attracted to my shopping basket. I enter the store for one or two specific items, and suddenly I'm handing over my credit card for $50 worth of groceries. It's a mystical experience.

On a recent trip I picked up a stowaway pumpkin spice chai mix. The pumpkin spice flavored coffee gets raves, so I let the tin remain in my basket tucked under the cereal and triple ginger cookies (how did those get there??). I figured I'd give it a try as the whole container is the price of one chai latte at a cafe. I also have a weakness for anything with pumpkin.

The ingredients are relatively pure- sugar, nonfat milk, pumpkin, black tea and spices. There is also honey and a few 'natural' chemicals. The dry mix smells strongly of pumpkin (yay!), cinnamon, and nutmeg. As with many common chai powdered mix, this one blends easily with water to create the chai latte.

The first cup that I made was a bit bland. It just tasted sweet. I was quite disappointed. I realized I probably used too much water, so I made sure to use a little more powder and a little less water the second time, and it tasted much better. A strong hit of pumpkin with a spicy finish of clove and nutmeg. There is a warming, tingly cinnamon flavor that lingers on the tongue for quite awhile. Cardamom lingers in the background, but doesn't overpower. I love cardamom in chai, but I don't care for it when it's the dominant flavor, masking everything else.

This chai is very sweet and I wish I could control the amount of sugar myself, as you can with Tipu's Chai. But thinking of this as just a fun holiday treat, I won't be too critical. It's tasty, it's got pumpkin, it's sweet, and a little spicy. What's not to like? This is definitely not something I'd drink every day, or have as a go-to beverage. But it's a fun drink now and again. It's autumn, so pull out the pumpkin chai after a long, chilly day outside. Enjoy!

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