Food Fight: Spyhouse vs. Tillie's Bean chai
Like SmartWool, space heaters, and Netflix subscriptions, warm beverages are a cold weather staple. And there's only so many dark roasts you can slug before you start looking for other options to work into the rotation. Pumpkin lattes? Tried 'em. Mexican hot chocolate? Been there, done that. This week, we're giving chai a shot to win our winter hearts.
Spyhouse has these great, wide-mouth mugs for drinks in-house that take two hands to hold -- a sweet bonus for cold winter hands. Their organic, Sattwa-brand chai comes with a sweet, thick pillow of froth at the top that I spent the entire drink chasing around the mug rim as it got smaller and smaller. The flavor is light and spice-forward, not too sweet or thick as some chais can be. Cost: A 16oz serving goes for $3.80.
Tillie's Bean chai tastes like the best thing you've ever tried -- at first. It's kind of like when you drink cream soda: The first few sips it tastes like the greatest thing in the universe, then you sort of want nothing more to do with it. The introductory embrace -- sugary, heavily spiced -- is rewarding, but a heavy, syrupy quality quickly gets cloying. The proprietary chai blend, made specially for them, costs $3.35 for a medium.
The Winner: If Tillie's served its chai in espresso cups, it would win handily, but it's just too powerful to handle for an entire 12 or 16 ounces. And since most warm, non-espresso beverages come in larger containers, there's the entire drinking experience to consider. Given that, Spyhouse's chai rules the day. While it has a subtlety that at first makes it seem weak, the Indian spices slowly circulate and nicely settle in. The experience is rounded out by its more aesthetically pleasing appearance.
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