C.S. Lewis famously said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
Whether you believe size, taste or convenience makes the chai you purchase the chai for you, here is a guide to nine of the different chai tea lattes Dooley Dollars can buy.
Price: F | Quality: B | Convenience: A | Variety: A
Kaldi’s is located in the Dobbs University Center (DUC), the School of Medicine and at The Depot. In addition to masala chai, Kaldi’s serves chocolate chai and chai rooibos, all of which can be ordered hot or iced. The smallest size, 8oz, costs $3.50.
The masala chai at Kaldi’s is a bit more watery or milky than others, but manages to pack a little more spice than that of Starbucks. Although not overly sweet, the masala chai is still satisfying. In comparison, the chocolate chai tastes like a less thick, more spiced version of hot chocolate. With the lightness of tea, its cocoa undertones mimic the addictiveness of a chocolate bar. The flavor is akin to that of a freshly unwrapped Tootsie Pop. The rooibos chai doesn’t have caffeine and is made with different spices than the masala chai.
“Masala [chai] is going to be sweeter and have more flavors like cinnamon, whereas rooibos is going to have spicier flavors like black pepper,” Kaldi’s employee Gabrielle Corrigon said.
The Kaldi’s cup is three-and-a-half inches tall, and on average the foam took up seven-eighths of an inch of the cup. In terms of service, I was served four minutes after arriving at Kaldi’s, and if ordered for consumption on-site, the chai can be served in a classic coffee shop mug.
Price: C | Quality: B | Convenience: C | Variety: A
Located in the Oxford Road Building, Starbucks serves the classic masala chai tea latte and the Oprah cinnamon chai tea latte, both of which can be ordered hot or iced. The classic masala chai tea latte and the Oprah cinnamon chai tea latte cost $3.65 and $3.75, respectively, for a 12oz tall.
With the classic warm and milky feel to it, the original chai is less spicy than that of Kaldi’s or Peet’s. According to Starbucks Newsroom, Oprah worked directly with Teavana’s teaologist to create a tea flavored with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves that were blended with loose-leaf black tea and rooibos. The Oprah cinnamon chai has a sweeter taste than the original, and is also a bit more spiced, leaving an aftertaste similar to that of a gingerbread Christmas cookie. The original chai is 190 calories, and the Oprah cinnamon chai is 150 calories. The tall cup is four-and-a-quarter inches tall, and foam took up one-fourth of an inch on average. I was served six minutes after ordering.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea
Price: B | Quality: B | Convenience: A | Variety: B
Peet’s is located on the first floor of Woodruff Library, and offers classic masala chai tea lattes, hot or iced. Both cost $3.00 for a 12 oz small. Peet’s is definitely the spiciest of the masala chais on campus and is a bit sweeter than the average chai tea latte. Although fairly quick, Peet’s Coffee’s hot chai availability depends on if their machine is working. Many students choose Peet’s because of it is conveniently located in the library.
Price: B | Quality: A | Convenience: C | Variety: B
Highland is located in the B-School and the Atwood Chemistry Building, and offers general masala chai hot and iced. A small is 12oz and costs $2.95. Highland Bakery definitely has the sweetest chai on campus. The tea is milky without losing the classic chai flavors. I was served six minutes after arriving at the B-School Highland. The cup had little to no foam.
Price: A | Quality: A | Convenience: A | Variety: C
Bhojanic Market serves Indian food in Cox Hall and offers a 16 oz iced chai tea priced at $2.95. It is by far the cheapest option on campus. Besides being the cheapest option, Bhojanic’s chai is the closest you can get to India’s masala tea. With just the right amount of sugar and milk, this tea will make you appreciate the diverse amalgam that is India.
The Green Bean
Price: B | Quality: A | Convenience: A | Variety: A
The Green Bean in Cox Hall serves hot classic masala chai tea lattes. They can make the chai with 2 percent milk, whole milk, skim milk, soy milk or almond milk. Although milk substitutions can be asked for at many places around campus, not all have as many options. (Soy and almond milk cost an additional 49 cents). Without add-ons, a medium 16oz latte, their smallest size, costs $3.99. Their lattes are smooth, not too spicy and contain approximately a quarter inch of foam, making them a classic and safe choice. I was served three minutes after arriving.
Overall, students seeking the sweetest chai tea latte should go to Highland Bakery; the cheapest, Bhojanic Market; the spiciest, Peet’s Coffee; for chocolate or rooibos chai, Kaldi’s; for a cinnamon twist, Starbucks and for various milk options, The Green Bean; for the classic Indian chai, Bhojanic’s. My personal favorite is the hot chai tea latte from The Green Bean with almond milk, because although pricey, the location is convenient and offers a unique and healthier take on this classic drink.