Chai something new

illustration by MARK STIVERS

I’m a person who appreciates chai, but can’t seem to make it properly at home. So I’m forced to schlep out $4 a pop for 8 ounces of overly sweetened, preservative-heavy chai. Luckily for Sacramento, Sarah Adams has her Chico Chai ( to help us in our tea-cup quandary. Adams learned to make traditional chai during a tea workshop when she was working at the Chico State Campus Center for Appropriate Technology. She started brewing it up every other day and, finally, after plenty of trial and error, crafted a unique spice blend and began to sell it.

“Most [chais] focus on cinnamon, cloves and ginger for flavor. I use cardamom, whole vanilla beans and a lot of other spices, and simmer it for hours for a unique profile. … I only use organic, fair-trade, black Assam tea,” said Adams.

Most teas are brewed with citric acid to preserve them so they don’t have to be refrigerated. These do have a shelf life, as they’re brewed in small batches without preservatives (think tea microbrewery). Chico Chai can be found at Sugar Plum Vegan, Off Broadway Bean, Coffee Works and Ambrosia Café & Catering.