I have a collector’s personality. In my younger years, I collected Sunday comics, Newsweeks, and keys. These days, I collect enamel stick pins. I also like collecting experiences, and my favorite one is chai teas, specifically chai tea lattes. That means I want to go to every place that serves chai, and analyze them. Here’s my list so far:
Dutch Bros – Terrible. It’s sugar and water. In the summer, though, after a long walk, an iced sugar water is pretty refreshing on the way home.
Starbucks – Also pretty bad. Very one-note.
Ike Box – One of my favorites. I had their spicy chai iced (which apparently was a sort of unusual order) and it was truly spicy. Lots of black pepper.
Java Crew – My favorite so far. It’s not too sweet, not too spicy. I can actually taste different flavors.
Tea Chai Te – I had the seasonal Gingerbread one, and that was really good. I was with Chris and a new friend at the time, so I didn’t pay super close attention to it. I have to go back and try again to get a more focused opinion.
Human Bean – The hot chai is pretty much just sugar and milk. The chai smoothie, however, is delicious, because I’m expecting lots of sugar.
Grab ‘n Go – One of those teeny drive-thrus in Aberdeen, Washington. They had a spiced chai and a vanilla chai. I got the spiced one, but it wasn’t very spicy. It had a bit too much milk in it, I think, which diluted the flavors.
Having this “collection” of chai encourages me to go out and try new places. It also forces me to be in the moment and really focus on what I’m drinking. I can get anxious about really random things or overwhelmed when I’m out in the world, but having an “assignment” really helps me zero in a few key things – the flavors of the drink, its coldness or heat, what I feel when I’m drinking it. It has a centering effect.
I also buy chai powders to make my own tea at home. I have tried Oregon Chai (meh) and Pacific Chai. I like the Spiced Pacific Chai better than the other two flavors. It recommends 2 tablespoons, but I think that’s way too much. I do about 1 1/5 with water. Just got the David Rio Tiger Spice Chai, aaaaaand it’s amazing. Just made it with water and hazelnut milk. Hot. SO GOOD.