Shahrzad barooti VS. Brooks Bond red label?


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Shahrzad barooti VS. Brooks Bond red label?

Postby Rainy-Day » May 6th, '09, 10:18

The only choice of loose leaf nearby is in an arabic grocery, they have Shahrzad barooti tea and Brooks Bond red label. I bought Shahrzad and it's really pretty dull, although I will try to experiment more with it. To be fair, I got so used to drinking nice keemuns and sichuans and yunnans and stuff that I no longer remember what a "cheap but ok" indian is supposed to taste like. Both Shahrzad and Brooks Bond are $5 for 400 grams. I really only need it for chai, I was thinking, is it worth getting red label and seeing if it improves chai taste? I hope somebody here knows both teas and can say if they're about the same or one of them is better. My problem with indian teas is that I don't order from places that have them usually and it seems a little silly to order 200 grams for $10 or so and pay $4 shipping..
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Postby teanoob » May 7th, '09, 00:55

Have you tried looking at an Indian store in your area? I am pretty sure all Indian stores will have Indian tea with them.
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 7th, '09, 03:51

teanoob wrote:Have you tried looking at an Indian store in your area? I am pretty sure all Indian stores will have Indian tea with them.


There's no indian stores here - north bergen, NJ. At least I didn't see any. And these 2 teas are indian..
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Postby teanoob » May 7th, '09, 10:14

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Postby teanoob » May 7th, '09, 10:16

I suggest you give them a call and check if they have those teas before you go there. Apart from the two teas you already mentioned you can also try Tata Tea (Tetley's parent co.)
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 7th, '09, 12:54

teanoob wrote:I suggest you give them a call and check if they have those teas before you go there. Apart from the two teas you already mentioned you can also try Tata Tea (Tetley's parent co.)


Well, none of them are in north bergen, I know of course that I could ride a bus to manhattan or to jersey city.. but that's even more expensive than ordering online and takes longer (that is, more time to spend going there and coming back..). Thanks for the link though!
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Postby teamaster » May 28th, '09, 05:28

I've tried brooke bond and it has a nice flavor. Not what I would call dull. Haven't tried the other brand you mention.
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Postby Masalachaaaaiii... » May 28th, '09, 17:21

I've had multiple types from brooke bond's (orange pekoe, mamri, "taj mahal", and others i can't remember), "deep" (has a lamp on the front), and my local indian restaurant uses whatever is the cheapest at the time in bulk, normally red label(1.8 kg for 14$). No experience with Shahrzad though.

When it comes to a tea for chai, cheaper loose leaf is better. The more delicate teas just don't cut it with a basic traditional chai. None of my paki/indian/bengali friends use the higher end tea, strangely. What way do you prepare your chai though? That is a heavy influence on tea choice as well.

I haven't used them for much else than masala chai... I have had the orange pekoe alone a few times, not too bad! I haven't tried the others alone, yet.

I may need to do a comparison of what I have here, then give a review. Next time I am in Memphis, i'll have to buy some Shahrzad brand.
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 30th, '09, 06:47

MASALACHAAAAIIIIII wrote:I've had multiple types from brooke bond's (orange pekoe, mamri, "taj mahal", and others i can't remember), "deep" (has a lamp on the front), and my local indian restaurant uses whatever is the cheapest at the time in bulk, normally red label(1.8 kg for 14$). No experience with Shahrzad though.

When it comes to a tea for chai, cheaper loose leaf is better. The more delicate teas just don't cut it with a basic traditional chai. None of my paki/indian/bengali friends use the higher end tea, strangely. What way do you prepare your chai though? That is a heavy influence on tea choice as well.


I boil water, add tea, set to simmer, add spices, and keep adding half and half over the course of 15 minutes, stirring all the time, adding turbinado sugar at the very end, then strain. Usually I do 1 cup of water, half a cup of half and half, 2 teaspoons tea, 3-4 pods of cardamom, 3 cloves, an inch stick of ceylon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of sugar.
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Postby Masalachaaaaiii... » May 30th, '09, 16:10

All-righty then! since you simmer all the spices/tea and add half and half over time, you need a strong CTC. I am currently trying each of the teas I have on hand. Parameters- boiling water/ teaspoon per cup of water/around 4 mins steep. I'm trying to see which is the strongest since it will work the best overall for masala chai, and which tastes better in general.

Red Label mamri tea - dark orange hue, a bit astringent, good to me! very strong though

Red Label orange pekoe- tad bit lighter orange hue than the mamri, the strength is much weaker than the mamri tea, lighter astringency, quite smooth. This tastes much better than the mamri alone, BUT it has failed when when making chai multiple times. It just isn't strong enough to balance out the spices/milk. Now I know why I was given strange looks at the indian store when I mentioned using this for masala chai...

"Deep" brand assam- well....This companies spices are cheap, the tea is cheap, everything they make is cheap, which is good for poor college students like me! This is decent, more astringent than the other teas, darker orange hue than the others, but not as strong as the Mamri tea. I'd rather have the Red Label brand than this though. (Try there premade masala papad, good stuff)

Overall if I was not going to use these for chai, Red Label orange pekoe wins. But for chai I would get Red Label Mamri. None of them were necessarily bad though, much better than the teas in the grocery store...

BTW, do you ever use fresh ginger in your blend? Or try other methods such as boiling everything together, boiling spices and tea then add milk later....endless!
The creamiest, smoothest chai I have ever made is by having everything thrown together and stirring constantly for 15 mins on a very light simmer straight or until the mixture turns a nice brownish color.
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Postby Rainy-Day » May 31st, '09, 00:09

I do use fresh ginger sometimes, I found that it often overpowers other spices, I need to experiment more. I will have to try simmering everything together as you say. (including sugar?) Do you always use half and half? What type of sweetener works best for you? I tried honey once and hated it. I probably just used too much, and it wasn't a very good honey (not organic and not "non-heated").
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Postby Masalachaaaaiii... » May 31st, '09, 05:21

When I use ginger, I cut two or three slices, fairly thin(little less than 1/4 inch). It definitely can overpower the spices if you use too much, just experiment. Many people grate the ginger AND peel it, but I don't since its strength increases (More surface area!) plus when you strain it, it can get directly into your cup... I leave the peel, due to lazyness and to weaken the ginger. Make sure your other spices are fresh too.

When you simmer(i use between 3-4 on my electric stove) everything together, alter the amount of tea you use. You usually need more, since the tea doesn't release its flavor as easily at this lower temp. I add the sugar in early if I plan on using a lot of it, then its totally dissolved in the tea and evenly distributed as well.

This method takes too long though, so i usually do it this lazy way now: In a sauce pan, I put my spices in around a little less than 1.5 cups of water, get it to a rolling boil, then turn it down to a simmer for 5-9 mins usually 7 though, Then I add about 1 cup of half and half. Get it to a rolling boil(don't let it boil over like me!, creates a mess...), then take it off the heat (or turn it down to lo to retain heat) and add the tea leaves. About one teaspoon per cup then one heaping teaspoon and let it steep from 3-5 mins covered. Strain, and add sugar whenever. Not as creamy but good. I also attempt to make it frothier and thicker by pouring between two cups at a large height, it helps dissolve sugar too(like chaiwallahs hehe).

Also you don't necessarily need to use half and half; whole milk, condensed milk, and for the sugar fanatics sweetened condensed(almost tooo sweet though) works. The consistency changes, but generally I stick with half and half.

I have used natural cane sugar, turbinado, honey, regular white sugar, and organic natural sugar. Turbinado is the best to me. I really disliked honey in my chai the few times I have tried (it is good with other teas though).

When I have time, I like to get the chai smooth and creamy, yet strong.
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Postby Rainy-Day » Jun 1st, '09, 06:38

Yeah, honey is just wrong in chai. I wonder though if you add 80% sugar and 20% honey, maybe it's not so bad. I will also try raw organic agave syrup and organic maple syrup I just got from trader joe's!!!
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Postby Masalachaaaaiii... » Jun 1st, '09, 14:31

That might even it out, but I really can't tell if the honey i use is high quality. Don't know much about honey! Let me know how those sweeteners work. In india they use jaggery some. Not sure if I can get that here, I'll have to check out the Indian Store soon (maybe this weekend). I read about using molasses sugar too. Also might try making some green masala chai and rooibos masala chai. Love experimenting with all this!

Anyone who would like to share blends or idea TELLLL THEM!!!!
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Postby Rainy-Day » Jun 2nd, '09, 01:04

Also might be interesting to try Panela sugar - it's a solid disc-form chunk of sugar sold usually in hispanic shops. Good honey is the one that says "non-heated". Other honeys are heated up to make it easy to pour them into bottles. Usually these will be organic as well. Sometimes they will say "uncooked", I'm not sure if it's the same thing as unheated, maybe they do heat them up but not enough to 'cook'? Just to be safe, I buy unheated only.

I tried making chai with lapsang souchong once. Not as bad as I expected. If you like LS (I don't), you might even like it better than black tea chai. With green tea, I'd probably try to use cheap china gunpowder.
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