(Gifted for purposes of review)
As a English person, living in England, I experience (and like to complain about) a fair amount of inclement weather – and it’s on cold or rainy days, days when I most need some comfort, that I find myself craving spiced teas. So what better to reach for during this, the most November-ry of Novembers, than the gentle, warming welcome of Virunga Chai by Birchall Tea.
(If you’d like a fuller overview of Birchall as a tea company, their history and their commitment to both ethical and environmentally conscious business practice, I’ve included some background in my review of their signature breakfast blend, Great Rift, which can be found here – https://mrsradfaddrinkstea.com/2019/11/04/great-rift-breakfast-blend-by-birchall-tea/ )
Some lovely chari-tea with this blend too – as it is one of Birchall’s Virunga blends, 5p from each pack sold is donated to help preserve Virunga National Park .
Now, onto the tea!
Opening the box, the familiar smell of cloves, tea and cinnamon is very comforting, This blend also contains cardamom, orange peel, ginger, and most interestingly, for me, rooibos. I’ve had a lot of black based chai, and a lot of rooibos based chai, (and once, a chamomile, ha!), but never a black and rooibos, so this was new territory for me (I was chatting to fabulous tea-blogger Tea Is A Wish about this too – head to her site to read her thoughts on this blend… after you’ve finished reading mine obv!) .
The first time I tried this tea, I was Very Good and followed the packet instructions to a T(ea) – 3 minutes with just boiled water. For me, this is the truest representation of this particular tea, a sign that Birchall know what they’re chatting about. The aroma for me is rich, definite, clove and rooibos, with a hint of orange peel.
On the Birchall website, they describe the warming quality of the South African rooibos, and I definitely agree with highlighting this aspect of it, and how well it fits in with the blend. The taste of this tea is very smooth, and almost round in the mouth with the warming flavours of black tea, rooibos, cinnamon and ginger. At three minutes steep, there is no astringency from the black tea at all. A lot of the flavours of the traditional masala chai are present, but with a warm, smooth African twist.
For the forgetful among us – perhaps (bear in mind I’ve had MANY cups of this lovely tea by this point) you wouldn’t want to drink it once it becomes too cool, as the cloves become very present – sometimes you can drink a “found” cuppa, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it here – hardly a criticism, more like advice!
I’ve also tried this tea prepared in a more traditional stove-top chai way, but I find the milk overpowers the rooibos a bit too much.
If you are looking for a milky-sugary preparation for this tea however, I have found that steeping it in just-boiled water for 4 mins to 4 mins 30 seconds allows the flavours to develop enough so that they are not drowned by creamy milk and brown sugar sweetness, at least for my palate (I told you, MANY cups).
With that, I think I may have another…
❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
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