For the past 200 or so years, chai tea has been a dessert beverage that has been enjoyed in countless cultures in many different variations. Although there are many delicious versions, the traditional preparation consists of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorn, nutmeg, and cloves. That is quite a large amount of spice variety, but how does it taste? When Europeans were introduced to chai tea in the 1800’s, they found it to be much too aggressive on their palates. Some described it as spicy, while others described it as bitter. This is when the British version of chai came into play. To make the flavor more mellow, the British would often add milk, sugar, and vanilla to provide a sweet and spicy experience that provided more balance and was agreeable to a wider palate.

Since those times, food culture has changed dramatically. Most people do not even realize that chai tea used to taste a lot more like... well... tea. Our culture has grown to have a fondness for sugar, and in doing so, we have lost a lot of variety in the food world. This is not to say modern chai tea isn’t delicious, but I am just pointing out that everything doesn’t need to taste like cream to be good!

In the hookah shisha world, tobacco mixologists often attempt to make flavors and blends that represent real life flavors and experiences. Not only does this provide a novel experience, but it also allows the experience to be relatable. In this blog, I will be briefly discussing three major chai tea shisha tobacco flavors, and see how they compare and relate to each other. The three flavors are Haze Chaitastic, Fumari Spiced Chai, and our own Hookah-Hookah Soothing Chai. Due to the nature of this blog, each flavor will be getting a brief review, followed by a winner.

Firstly, we will discuss Haze Chaitastic. Haze is a shisha tobacco company out of Texas. They have had some great success producing very unique flavors and have some of the biggest clouds out of any shisha tobacco out there. Chaitastic is Haze’s take on a natural chai flavor. The cut is a medium to large cut, with some stems. Since I picked up my batch of this flavor, Haze has revised their cut to a more finely cut style. The tobacco is super saturated with juice, almost the point that there is too much, but this is not a big issue. Haze contains propylene glycol, which gives the juice a slightly thicker viscosity than other shisha blends. The smell is in one word- aggressive. The scent of spices assaults the nose as you try to understand what you are smelling. I found it to be a bit overwhelming, but I know people that absolutely love this flavor. In my opinion, Haze definitely tried to produce a natural chai, as opposed to a British style with vanilla and cream. In this regard, they succeeded. I found the flavor to closely resemble the smell; spices coat the palate and produce a natural experience. The only gripe I have with this flavor is that it produces too much spice; it really turned me off from smoking this flavor by itself. I use it now as a mixer with Hookah-Freak Atomic Fireball, which creates a more agreeable flavor for me.

Fumari has been packing bowls of hookah in their lounge since the late 1990’s. Since then, they have become a popular shisha tobacco brand. Their marketing and labeling is some of the best in the industry. I love the fact that they come in resealable pouches, and the coloring and text of the pouch really grabs your attention. The only downside is that they only make 100 gram pouches and kilo bricks, which is a bit too much for the average shisha smoker! Fumari’s cut is finely cut, hand processed, and extremely juicy. They are one of the last brands out there to bag their tobacco by hand, which keeps stems and bad cuts away from the consumer. Spiced Chai is Fumari’s take on the infamous chai flavor. Unlike Haze, Fumari embraced the British style of chai tea. With an abundance of vanilla and creamy sugar, Spiced Chai is enjoyable by anyone, and that is a huge positive in my opinion. Fumari in general is very sensitive to heat, and Spiced Chai is probably the most heat sensitive flavor they make. Keeping this in mind, it is hard to keep a balance between good flavor and good clouds, but once you find that sweet spot, this flavor is incredible. I certainly wouldn’t call it an authentic chai experience, but it is very enjoyable, which is saying a lot.

Hookah Hookah is our brand of normal shisha tobacco flavors here at Sahara Smoke. We use Kosher vegetable glycerin and only natural flavoring and honey. Keeping it simple is a great way to keep the flavor of the tobacco and also produce a flavorful experience that doesn’t taste like chemicals. Our cut is very finely chopped, and we also bag and process all our tobacco by hand! Our latest revisions have been very juicy, but still not overdone. The smell of Soothing Chai is one that brings the most prominent flavor profiles of chai tea out. You get all the spice without being overwhelmed, which is a welcome change to Haze Chaitastic. I would venture to say that Soothing Chai is sweeter than Haze, but does not resemble the British style of chai. Even though the British style is sweet and tasty, it feels like a fake experience compared to the more authentic mix. This flavor is the best representation of chai in the industry, and that is saying a lot since many brands have attempted to beat Fumari’s Spiced Chai. This flavor makes me want to relax by a fire in the winter with a glass of chai tea, which is exactly what a chai flavor should do. The best part is that you can add some Hookah Hookah vanilla to sweeten it up and make it “redcoat style”!

All in all, chai flavors are a knockout punch of spices and produce extremely mild heat at times, and considering many hookah flavors consist of spices, this is a flavor that will be around for quite some time. It was a tough choice for me between Fumari and our own Hookah Hookah Soothing Chai, but in the end, I would have to say Soothing Chai is the best flavor profile. It is authentic, smooth, and makes me want the real thing!