Friday, July 6, 2012

grande half dirty iced soy chai

Hello, my name is Kathy and I am addicted to Starbucks.
I've been frequenting the baristas a lot more than usual lately and it's taking a toll on my wallet. My usual drink (see the above title) costs around $4.50. Now, I'm not buying them everyday, but at least once, maybe twice per week. Sometimes I switch it up and get an iced tea, which is cheaper or a hot tea (one teabag), which is the cheapest. But it's summer, so hot tea is reserved for AM's in the AC only. In any case, I'm still spending about $20-$25 per month on calories I don't really need.

But they taste sooooooooo good. I mean really really REALLY good. I want one just thinking about it. There's not much better on a hot day than a cold chai. All that deliciousness comes with a pricetag - and I'm not just talking about the literal price - there are 240 calories in a grande (medium) and 43 grams of sugar. I might as well eat about 12 sugar cubes (sidenote: the website Sugar Stacks will really make you think about how much sugar your consume).

In the name of frugalism (& my girlish figure), I've challenged myself to recreate the drink at home. Spoiler: it's much harder than I thought. I could just buy the boxed Tazo concentrate Starbucks uses - it's not *too* expensive (about $4 for 32 ounces), but, after reading the label, I saw the concentate was the man source of my sugar woes. There is 16 grams of sugar in four ounces! I put that box back on the shelf for now and took to the internetz to solve this dilemma.

The first website that pops up when you google "how to make starbucks chai tea latte at home" is Tammy's Recipes. She suggests using Celestial Seasonings India Spice tea bags. I didn't have that brand at home and I couldn't seem to find it in store; however, I saw in the comments that another tester used Stash's Chai Spice tea. Score! My favorite tea brand! But honestly, I wasn't a fan of this recipe. I used 1% milk instead of whipped cream (an ingrediant we don't normally have in this house), but it didn't have the right combination of spices + sweetness. Next!

I tried to use my brain (that might have been my first mistake) and recall how my baristas made the beverage. If the drink is hot, the ingrediants are water, milk, & concentrate, but if the drink is iced, it's only milk & concentrate. I picked up a box of Organic Vanilla Soy Milk at Stop & Shop for $2 and set out the next morning to create this drink if it kills me. My first attempt was eeual parts (1 cup) water & milk plus two tea bags. Blech. Absolutely terrible. The next attempt was just milk & tea bags. Better, but still too sweet. Back to the grocery store where I picked up a box of Stash's Double Chai Spice tea. Third time was the charm - the double spice tea bags packed the punch I was looking for.

The recipe still needs plenty of tweaking - it doesn't translate to an iced drink as well as I'd hoped, despite only using two ingredients. Adding a packet of Stevia in the Raw makes the drink too sweet. I'm thinking maybe one more tea bag will balance it out. But for now, the recipe does what I wanted - replace my weekly habit with a drink that's cheaper and doesn't pack on the pounds. Eventually, I'd like to try my hand at making chai tea with actual spices and loose tea, but right now, it's too hot for that!

Have you ever made your own version of a store's concoction? How did it turn out?