While many college students have taken out their knit-scarves and over-sized sweaters in preparation for pumpkin spice latte season, I find myself yet again ordering the same drink at every coffee store I frequent: dirty chai
Yes, I’m that girl who can’t handle coffee. While my friends would all be hailing iced-coffee—their savior during midterm season—I’d be planted at my studies with my handy water bottle in hand. So, my love for chai lattes was born out of necessity—the fact that I had to order something every time I went to a café or coffee shop to study. Coffee? Too bitter. A pastry? Maybe, if I actually went to the gym every once in a while. Chai latte? Perfect.
I understand today’s chai lattes are in no way comparable to the authentic masala chai in India. I’d like to think that I’m drinking the traditionally brewed black tea with mixtures of cardamom pods, black peppercorn, cinnamon sticks and ground cloves and ginger. But, I’m well aware that big coffee chains now use flavored syrup or powdered mixes—just let me feel like I have professional, cosmopolitan taste for a moment!
On one fateful coffee study-sesh outing, I noticed an interesting offering on the menu: “Dirty Chai.” I immediately looked up what made this chai so, well, dirty. It was basically a chai latte with an added shot of espresso. What’s up with the name, you ask? I guess there’s some social deviance involved when you order a chai with a shot of espresso. How dirty.
What can I say? I was sold. The first Dirty Chai I ordered was from Café Jax, and it’s safe to say the rest is history. And don't be scared to make your order a little more basic: order it with almond, or better yet, coconut milk. Trust me, it will change your life.
The drink is perfect for those who aren’t yet cold-brew connoisseurs, but still want to hop on that coffee-drinking bandwagon, all the while having that comforting and delicious sweet, spicy chai. You won’t often see a “dirty chai” actually offered on the menus of coffee stores, but if you ask, baristas will usually know what you’re talking about. It's like a secret-menu offering at every coffee store. Otherwise, it never hurts to just order a chai latte with a shot of espresso. It will make you feel fancy.
All I’m saying is don’t knock it until you try it. Perhaps a dirty chai is the support you need as you embark on that journey of actually enjoying coffee. For me, it’s just my drink of choice. Would you believe me if I said I'm drinking one as I’m writing this?