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Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Favs: Vanilla Chai Lattes

My current indulgence is a Vanilla Chai Latte. Last winter it was a Medium Mocha at McDonalds, but this year, in an effort to consume less sugar and less calories, I began searching for an alternative. I've had chai before, but I've really gotten hooked in the last few months.

Did you know that "chai" simply means "tea" in Hindi? The chai latte we refer to is actually "masala chai." Masala chai is a mixture of tea leaves, spices and milk, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Traditional chai (as we know it) has more caffeine than regular tea does, due to the way it is prepared.

That's your fun fact for the day. Whatever would we do without Wikipedia? So now I've developed a passion for chai. I've also, by default, developed a discriminating palette. Not all chais were created equal.

Starbucks Vanilla Chai Latte is a superior chai. It's superior in flavor, texture, and of course, superior in price. It's also superior in calories. A Tall will ring you up at 240 calories. Apparently that extra bit of flavor has a high cost.

Next up is Big Train Vanilla Chai. Coffee shops everywhere use this brand, and usually sell bags of it right in their store. It's definitely the best chai mix that I've had, and I like that you can find it most anywhere. It's still a bit pricey, and it'll clock you 140 calories per serving.

Then we have the mixes you can find in most grocery stores. I've tried three, and I really like two out of the three. I do not recommend Lipton's Spiced Chai Tea Bags. It is way too spiced, obviously does not have vanilla, and you have to add the milk, which means the calorie count is usually higher. The two I do like are:

Pacific Chai Vanilla Chai Latte. This is the one I currently have in my cupboard. It's a yummy blend, clocks you 90 calories, and it's not too expensive. It's not quite creamy enough for my taste, so I'll usually add a splash of milk. Obviously, this increases the calories count a bit, but I'm still way under my Mocha Frappacino count. :-)

The other brand I really like is Oregon Chai Vanilla Chai Latte. Each packet is a cool 100 calories, and its so creamy you don't need any additional dairy products. This one is a little harder to find in stores, although Walmart usually has it. Each box is usually about $4 and has 8 packets, which makes it a decent price per serving.

So there you have it. A comprehensive guide to chai, including which is the cheapest, the yummiest, and the least expensive calorie wise. I even included some fun facts for all of you who like to be walking encyclopedias. Now that you know my current obsession, I want to know yours? What's your hot drink of choice?

All images except the first found through images.google.com


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micah @ the yellow front door December 4, 2009 at 8:19 PM  

Yum - I love chai tea lattes! I buy the Tazo brand (same thing Starbucks uses, I think) at Costco and make it with vanilla soy milk... delish!

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