We’re going to do this review backwards today, so let me start right up front with the taste.
Say When Authentic Chai Concentrate is both basic — no fancy extras — and classic at the same time. The combination of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and pepper is nice and traditional, without any need to jazz it up further with spice-rack stunt-casting. Mixed to spec, it’s perfectly sweet, with hints of molasses, and the tea notes aren’t lost in the other flavours. It’s not flashy or trying to be anything more than a really good traditional chai.
This particular concentrate — made in Delta, B.C., by Say When Beverages — is maybe most notable not for its taste — which is excellent — but for a couple other things that make it unique.
No honey, no problem
For starters, it’s vegan. Some chai concentrates love to use natural ingredients like honey, which may be great for a lot of the folks who would buy a chai concentrate, but is a nuisance for vegans. As such, this Say When concentrate is a perfect option for those who want to mix it with soy, almond, oat or whatever other kind of alternative milk floats your boat. (This is where I also note that it’s organic, kosher and gluten-free, and all the ingredients on the label are fully recognizable.)
Strength in the mix
The other nifty feature is how concentrated it is. If you’ve mixed chai lattes from concentrates before, you’ll know that the standard ratio for many big brands seems to be one part milk to one part concentrate. This chai concentrate’s mix is three (milk) to one (chai), which means the same volume of concentrate can make more lattes. Put another way, to mix one cup of chai latte, other concentrates require 1/2 cup of concentrate, topped up with milk. With only 1/4 cup needed with Say When Authentic Chai, the cost per cup is cheaper, and the waste and shipping issues associated with each carton are lessened.
Of course, one of the great things about using chai concentrate at home is mixing it to your own tastes. Like it stronger and sweeter? Add more mix. My prep method is about as basic as it gets, and it works just fine. Pour 1/4 cup of chai concentrate and 3/4 cup of milk into a microwaveable mug, then zap it for maybe 50 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your microwave setting. Couldn’t be simpler.
Do you love pumpkin spice lattes? In Canada, you can find Torani-brand pumpkin flavoured syrup at various cafes for purchase by the bottle (and at Sunterra Market in Alberta, if that’s more convenient), but I find Torani’s pumpkin syrup doesn’t have enough spice for a good pumpkin spice latte. Easy solution: add a splash of this chai concentrate to your latte in addition to the Torani syrup, and it gives it the needed spicy punch.
Price: $7.49 for a 946 mL Tetra Pak carton at London Drugs.
Value for Money: Good, considering it’s more concentrated than other similar chais.
Availability: Not easy to find, but not impossible. In Edmonton (and probably Calgary), try London Drugs or Sunterra Market.
Calories: 50 calories per 60 mL (1/4 cup) of concentrate. Actual mileage will vary based on mix ratio and milk/alternative added.
Verdict: An exquisite chai concentrate, perfect for those cool fall days ahead.