February 5, 2011
Have you ever wondered how your life would have been different if one specific moment hadn’t occurred? I believe my entire life course was altered by one specific person and she has no idea. Stephanie Lynn, if you are out there, thank you, for you introduced me to perfection in a cardboard cup.
While walking by Starbucks on the University of Cincinnati’s campus in 2001, I was urged to try her favorite drink, a raspberry chai. A decade later, I am still addicted. The mixture of the spicy chai tea and sweetness of raspberry flavoring are the perfect marriage when added to perfectly frothed milk.
When I say that I am addicted, what I mean is that I am obsessed. Yet, every time I order it no one has ever seemed to have tried it before. The comments are normally something along these lines: “That sounds interesting.” “This smells delicious. I’ll have to try it.” “I’ve never had that one before, but it sounds great!” I am telling you all, here and now, it is all of these things. Simply delightful. You must try it.
I have attempted to make my chai for myself several times. Starbucks is an expensive habit to have. I have warmed my milk in the microwave. I have tried to steam it in a pot on the stove. Neither of those techniques were successful. I “invested” in a cheap frother to keep at work with me. I would make my chai every day for about two weeks. That one didn’t last long. Because it was a cheap frother, it took a really long time to work. I didn’t have the patience. Because I didn’t want to wait that long, I wouldn’t let the milk froth correctly, so it never tasted right.
For my birthday this year, my husband got me a nice frother. I can’t even begin to explain how excited I was to test it out. I bought the same chai they use at Starbucks (Tazo Tea) and even bought their raspberry flavoring. I followed the directions (1/2 Chai, 1/2 milk) and added what I thought would equal two squirts of flavoring. (If you are attempting to make it on your own, be sure to froth the milk before adding it to the chai and raspberry mixture.) There should be no reason why it shouldn’t turn out the exact same as Starbucks. It does. Kind of. The frother froths very nicely, but it doesn’t get very hot. So, you either need to warm the milk before you froth it or warm the entire drink once you mix it. Once it is at a good temperature, it is very enjoyable.
I have come to the conclusion that a good part of my obsession lies in the Starbucks cup itself. I am convinced that by simply drinking from a cardboard cup with the Starbucks logo on it somehow makes the drink feel better going down. I’m not giving up. I am going to find a way to make the perfect chai. I found a recipe for actually making chai tea (from straight darjeeling tea and an assortment of spices) and am dedicated to perfecting the art of chai. In the meantime, I will settle for my at home Starbucks imitation and the occasional trip to get the real thing. Regardless of what I do, you should get in your car and go (or bike or walk if you are more environmentally conscious than I) to the nearest Starbucks and order a Raspberry Chai Tea Latte so you can experience a little piece of heaven. You won’t be sorry.