Also used as a medicine, chai tea was created in India hundreds of years ago. This spiced tea is a simple yet utterly heartwarming beverage. The spices in chai tea create its distinct flavor. These spices include cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seeds, peppercorns and cloves.
Originally made with condensed milk and spices, the tea survived the ages and keeps its sweet taste in different forms. A newer twist on chai tea is the chai latte. The simple tea is brewed with milk and water together, and topped-off with vanilla syrup. The finishing touch is steamed milk lacing the top with a foamy cream, which makes this tea an elegant and sophisticated drink.
Around the Los Angeles area, chai lattes are sprouting up in coffee shops-from Starbucks to Café Luxxe. Although all chai lattes share these basic principles, each shop creates different and unique works of drinkable art.
I decided to check out some different varieties.
One of the world’s most beloved coffee shops is the chain Starbucks. This international establishment creates its own twist on the classic Indian beverage. The Starbucks Chai Latte was different from any other I tried. It was rich in flavor and had the signature taste of Starbucks… very sweet. The cinnamon was almost masked by the sugary taste of the tea, but managed to hold on, creating a warming feeling as it slid down my throat.
Another sweet chai latte I tried was from La Brea Bakery. Their tea was rich and full of spices. It almost screams “pumpkin pie” since the spices selected to go into this latte are ones that are usually associated with the Thanksgiving favorite. Although it was very good, the topping that takes the tea from good to stunning was missing: the steamed milk. The rich tea lacked something that cools taste buds and makes the drink ten times more delectable.
My third chai latte was from Café Luxxe. The high-end coffee shop ironically makes the simplest and least overwhelming chai latte. The creamy steamed milk was dressed with a sprinkle of cinnamon on the top. When the tea emerged, it was satisfying and rich– without trying too hard. I could barely make out the vanilla syrup that complemented the drink, leaving the spices to speak for themselves. For those that prefer a less sumptuous tea, this latte is simply phenomenal.
There is a chai latte for all types of people. Some prefer the sweetness, others a rich, pungent flavor or a calming milky tea. These different drinks defy their archetypes, for they each have a unique style, taste and fragrance.