Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Tea's Tea Stick Latte Ginger Chai
Thanks to a trip up a mountain, the Tea's Tea brand has hooked me as a repeat customer. If they could just get everyone to climb a mountain in winter with a vending machine offering their drinks as handy hand warmers, Ito En might sell a lot more tea. Perhaps I should offer that idea to them as a marketing solution. It's a little convoluted, but I've seen worse in Japan like a politically incorrect actor dressed up like a stereotype of a Mexican stutter-stepping his way through a "Don Tacos" commercial.
Given my enjoyment of the soy milk tea I previously reviewed, I jumped at the chance to sample this 4-pack of instant ginger chai tea when I saw it at Seiyu supermarket for 187 yen ($2.24). Most of the chai mixes you see available in Japan are supercharged with sugar, but this was only 34 calories so I figured there was a good chance that it wouldn't be quite such a blood sugar bomb.
Each packet makes a 150 ml. (3/4 cup) serving of tea. This is a relatively small portion, but very much in line with the norm in Japan for individually packaged portions of instant beverages. In a former review of Maxim's Oreo and Mont Blanc lattes, I mentioned that those packets only made 130 ml. of coffee (and at nearly double the calories of this tea). Note that this tea can be mixed either as hot or cold tea, but I only tried it hot.
My main concern with this was that the ginger element might end up overbearing and that the chai aspect masked. Fortunately, though the ginger was strong, it didn't obliterate the chai flavoring but rather competed with it. The blend is potent, but very gratifying. It contained not only good solid elements of ginger and chai, but also the slightly floral notes of good tea. The only criticism a person might have of the entire balance was that it was a bit on the sweeter side, but frankly, I prefer my tea quite sweet.
From an economic viewpoint, this isn't much of a bargain over buying bottled tea since you can generally get a 500 ml. bottle for about 100 yen. From a pure volume perspective, this is about half the tea for almost half the price. That being said, ginger chai isn't sold as a prepared tea so this is the only way to get it. It's also convenient for tossing into a desk and making on the fly at the office when you're in the mood for a flavorful tea blend. It'd be a great thing to distract you from a sugar-craving when you're starting to drag in the early afternoon and crave chocolate.
I loved this, and will definitely get it again, but it may be too sweet for some and/or too intense for others. Unless you are extremely sensitive to either of these, I'd recommend giving this a try.