This is my first Cherry Pick, a weekly post featuring my current favorite fashion, food, artist, book, show, game, or whatever happens to be my latest cup of tea. Speaking of tea, I absolutely love chai tea (not to be confused with Tai Chi), but ONLY if it is a certain brand. Oh great, you’re thinking, another affiliate promotion for a product that isn’t even good. Actually, I’m not an affiliate for this. I simply adore it and am more than happy to share a few of my favorite things (I hear Fraulein Maria singing). Let me start from the beginning so you can see how very credible I am, too.
My first job was a barista at Barnes & Noble Cafe in Oregon. I absolutely loved crafting espresso drinks inside of a bookstore. Back in those days, it really was an art form as we did a lot by hand (now it’s essentially pressing one button). Upon becoming quite familiar with each and every drink on the menu, my fave was the chai, called Writer’s Chai at the time. I thought all chai tasted that great, but not all chai is created equal.
So what is the secret to the BEST chai?
Most coffee shops make chai by filling half the cup with tea (hot water with tea in it), then add the steamed milk for the other half. We used a few pumps of a sweet concentrate, then added the steamed milk, and that was it; NO water! So it’s richer instead of watery, just like a latte. Even if you buy chai in a carton from the store, it’s not a concentrate; it still has too much water. I also tried buying chai tea bags and only putting them in hot milk, leaving out the water. That didn’t taste right either. The flavor was not the right spice.
Over the years, unless I was at a Barnes & Noble, I never ordered chai because it was just too disappointing.Then when talking with my friend the other day about teas, I mentioned I really like vanilla almond tea. She said that sounded really delicious and asked me where to buy it. I couldn’t remember so I looked online and realized it was the brand of tea we served at the cafe, The Republic of Tea. Then it dawned on me: Maybe the chai was the same brand. I jumped on their website and there it was, the familiar dark brown jug of concentrate with the white pump. I even asked on their live chat if it is the same Writer’s Chai, and YES, it was! I finally found my long lost love!
As of now, they do not offer a small size…it’s a 64 oz. jug (however they do occasionally offer free shipping on orders over $30). If I ran my own coffee stand, I’d definitely get it, but it’s just a lot for one person. I read the reviews, and along with everyone saying it’s the best chai ever, some said they freeze it in ice cube trays, which is a brilliant idea. I told my husband this would be a great Christmas present for me. I also discovered they have matcha powder, so I could make my own green tea smoothies like I used to get at Jamba Juice (though back then it was called Zuka Juice…I’m not the only one who likes alliterations). So it might be a small investment, but if you buy a latte most days, making your own chai instead will save you a lot of money!
I hope I have been a good chai TEA-cher for you (sorry, I couldn’t resist). If I get some by Christmas, I will surely post again about it.
Have you tried it? What do you think of it? Is there something you’d like to see for the next Cherry Picks post? Let me know with a comment.