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Marlborough School Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Lizze Small Contributing Illustrator
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April 12, 2024

Spill the chai

Chai, which directly translates to the word tea in Hindi, is a 5,000-year-old spiced drink that originated in India. The choice beverage for Maharaja’s over the centuries, it was initially consumed in the court of King Harshavardhana, as well as being guzzled for its healing benefits. 

In the modern world, chai heals me in a more emotional way. I can’t go a day without it. While this is bad news for my bank account ($5 for a cup of tea seems more and more expensive each day) I’d like to think that despite my little to no experience making and tasting this tea, I’ve become quite the expert on all things chai latte. This drink fit for royalty makes me feel a sense of utter bliss, so, for you, dear reader, I’ve embarked on a journey to create a list of my favorite chai lattes in Los Angeles. A warning: these recommendations are far from authentic, but I think that they are pretty delicious in their own right. So, here are some of my favorites:

  1. Starbucks Chai Tea Latte: Starbucks’ “chai,” at whatever temperature one desires, may be a controversial choice to put on a recommendation list because some wouldn’t consider this sweet, milky drink to be a traditional chai latte. However, to me, this overly sugary, hardly spiced, drink tastes like a warm hug on a cold day or a breath of fresh air on a scorching one. No matter what, I will always fully finish my chai from Starbucks, whether hot or iced, showing my love and dedication for the drink. If you cannot manage to find your way to a Starbucks, find that the Tazo Classic Chai Latte Concentrate and splash of milk yield a similarly tasting beverage. That being said, chai made at home never quite unlocks the same experience as one sipped from a Starbucks holiday cup: a sure sign of the season. Overall ⅗ stars.
  2. Groundwork Coffee Spiced Chai: The spiced chai from Groundwork (in Larchmont), is the polar opposite of Starbucks’ interpretation of the drink: on a scale from tea leaf and water to holiday spiced beverage with a sugar content that rivals that of a can of Coke, Groundwork Coffee Spiced Chai falls closer to a traditional chai. I love Groundworks chai, and I think it supplies the perfect boost of energy during a long morning. I personally think that the hot chai needs a little extra milk, and I typically lean towards their almond milk. On the other hand, the iced chai is perfection in a glass. Many don’t think of Groundworks as a reliable source for chai, but I have grown to love the darker, cardamom taste and find myself constantly wishing I had ordered the 24oz instead of the 16oz.  Overall ⅘ stars.
  3. If you are looking for a happy medium between Starbucks and Groundworks, find your way to your local Alfred. Their chai is the perfect medium between sweet and spice, but the kind folks at Alfred go the extra mile with the presentation, which brings this beverage to the top of my list. The cinnamon on top and throughout the drink adds the perfect flavoring combination. While I do wish this chai was less expensive, I always find my way back to it, and the flavor reminds me of cozying up on a cold day. Surprisingly enough, the hot chai from Alfred is possibly the very best that I have had. It’s hard to ace both hot and cold, but Alfred doesn’t disappoint. Overall 5/5 stars

My obsession with chai has permeated even the deepest parts of my soul. Although chai is easy to brew at home, I would personally recommend that you sample a variety of chai interpretations. Perhaps with my list, you too can become a master chai drinker.

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About the Contributor
Dalton '24, Co-Managing Editor and Head of Politics
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