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Top Five Los Angeles Chai Lattés

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The sweetened, spiced tea drink we know as chai originated as a hot drink in India. Traditionally it’s a combination of looseleaf black tea, spices, sweetener, and hot milk. The chai latté has become a recognized staple in restaurants and hipster cafés throughout the western world these days, served hot or iced. There are many ways to make a chai latté, and the ubiquity of readymade pre-sweetened mixes makes a chai composed of unprocessed ingredients a rare treat.

Among the top five on the list, three are made from scratch and two use mixes that taste far better than most. First, a word about the big chains. Starbucks chai latté is steamed milk mixed with Tazo brand liquid concentrate, which you can buy in stores. The concentrate is a drinkable but overly sweet mixture of brewed tea, spices, honey and sugar. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s chai latté starts with a looseleaf brewed tea spiced up just right (it includes cinnamon, cardamom seed, ginger, and clove) but is overpowered by the same french vanilla powder they put into their entire roster of blended drinks.