Wandering through my local natural foods grocery the other day, I happened upon the new Sugar-Free Original Oregon Chai. This was, for me, a cool experience, since I know a gentleman who used to be the President of Oregon Chai and I had lobbied him incessantly to put a bug into the ear of his erstwhile company to make their delicious product in a sugar free version. And one NOT made with aspartame, thank you. And, lo and behold, here it was, right on the shelf in front of my eyes. Whether my input influenced the development of this product or not I have not a clue. No matter. It exists!

I bought it, took it home, and promptly whipped myself up a sugar-free chai breve faux latte.

By faux, I mean that instead of using equal parts of chai and half and half as you would in a true breve latte, I used equal parts of the chai mix and water, with just a couple of tablespoons of half and half added to give it a creamy taste without a ton of unnecessary extra calories. Then I heated and frothed it with the steam wand of my handy-dandy Starbucks Athena Barista home espresso machine and voila’ just like a trip to Starbucks without ever leaving the farm, so to speak. Even better, since I’ve yet to find a Starbucks franchise that carries chai in this new sugar-free version. Hello, Starbucks…are you listening?

Even once they begin to carry it–and surely they soon will, apparently I have but to request it–I would still have to train the barista to make mine sort of like a sugar-free chai Americano and add my own bit of half and half after the fact. Wouldn’t be the first time; I’ve trained more than one barista (in Starbucks and elsewhere) on the finer points of making a great Americano. For those I haven’t gotten to yet, listen up: put the hot water in the cup first, leave an inch or so of room, then float the double shot of espresson on top to preserve the crema. But enough of espresso; back to chai. There’s one very important reason to adopt the faux latte method:

these are really tasty.

Made the traditional way, with 4 ounces of half and half per serving, even though they’d still be low in carbs, they would pack a pretty hefty calorie wallop. And that would just be for a “Tall” which means “Small” at Starbucks. In a “Grande” or, Heaven help us all, a “Venti” you can do the math on how much half and half (or milk) you’d be getting. I don’t know about you, but restraint is not (nor has it ever been) my middle name. I can see how easy it would be to put away a pint of half and half or more a day drinking these things. Better to know thyself, plan ahead, and subvert temptation.

Anyway, my faux version was yummy. Hot, spicy, and just creamy enough to suit a slightly overcast and chilly day in our little town…or yours.

One Comment

  1. To heck with wimpy half and half, let’s go with full on cream. Just joking. I laced my protein powder shakes with full strength cream, not the wimpy whipping cream. I enjoyed the shakes very much, but soon noticed a small inexporable increase in weight. So with much regret I now consume protein powder and water shakes. Thanks for reminding me of my peccadillo.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Yes, it’s a sad fact of nutritional thermodynamics that calories do, indeed, count, too.

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