On my trip to the US this summer, I noticed another new trend – the craze for Chai! This isn’t chai as we Indians know it, this is Chai – an evolution of tea in a coffee culture society. They have all the variants of coffee – latte, macchiato, frappuccino – but for tea.
So, you are standing in line to get your morning fix at a typical “coffee” shop (and I’m not just talking about Starbucks, I’m talking about all the smaller chains, local coffee shops, neighborhood bakeries) and you hear orders of Chai flying all about you. And in different varieties – “A small Chai latte mocha please”, “A large chai frappuccino, very little whipped cream”, “Chai macchiato in soy milk, no sugar”. And my first reaction was a gag reflex. I’m no tea connoisseur but tea with whipped cream! In soy milk! As a Frappuccino! With Mocha flavor! – I couldn’t digest.
BUT! Curiosity got the better of me and I ventured to try it one morning to see what the craze was about, whether this chai frappuccino was worth the hullaballoo it had created. My first sip, and I thought “what is this?”, second sip “this is interesting…”, third sip “Ya, I can taste the tea in it…” and by my fourth sip “I can get used to this…” and then on I was hooked!
I visited my aunt there and noticed she had switched from using tea leaves to using some Chai Latte pre-mix. And this is an aunt who is really fond of tea, I remember her fussing over taking back a particular brand of tea from India the last time she visited us.
I went grocery shopping there and what did I find? I found a whole range of ready-mixes for Chai Latte in multiple flavors (Vanilla, Spiced, Cardamom) by multiple brands.
So, all you tea aficionados out there – are you ready to try this?