At first, I was worried they might do away with the regular chai, but they did not. Oprah Chai has simply increased the tea-drinker's options at Starbucks. I asked a couple of baristas about the difference between the two chai lattes. One said that the Oprah chai had more cinnamon and provided help for Oprah's Leadership Academy. Another told me that it was bolder and spicier. I knew I'd have to try it for myself, in a side-by-side comparison, in order to really know the difference (especially since I'm trying different chai lattes every few weeks for our purposes on this blog). I also knew I needed to blog my results. Otherwise, what is the point of any of this?
So, I ordered a "Short Oprah Chai Latte and a Short Regular Chai Latte" at Starbucks. A couple of notes here: "short" is 8 oz. It's not on the menu, but the baristas don't bat an eye when you order it (unlike some "secret menu" items). Normally, I get my regular chai lattes with soy, no water (it's hands-down the best way to drink a chai), but for the purposes of this taste test, I ordered them both regular.
I first sipped the regular chai. It's creamy, just a little bit of spiciness, sweet, and smooth. It's like drinking warm, foamy milk with a little bit of tea. Actually, that's exactly what it is. I saw him make it. This is not a complaint.
Next, I tried the Oprah latte. I took the lids off both lattes and could immediately smell the difference. Cinnamon. Cinnamon and perfume endorsements.
Oprah's latte is spicier, but not overpoweringly cinnamon. There is definitely more cinnamon, but there is also more of the other spices--ginger, cardamom, and cloves. I also detected a slight hint of the essence of Pharrell's tears. You can tell the spices have been infused with celebrity secrets. It's still very creamy and smooth, but with a bit more kick and femininity. Yes, this chai tastes more feminine. [Still waiting to hear about some tea sommelier classes.] It's also invigorating; Oprah's chai wakes you up. It makes you want to start a book club, mentor young women, and give away things. Suddenly, you're shouting from your table in the middle of a crowded Starbucks, "YOU GET A CAR! AND YOU GET A CAR! AND YOU GET A CAR!" Sit down, crazy person. It's just tea. Good tea, but just tea.
Oprah's chai does also donate to her Leadership Academy. It does cost slightly more than a regular chai. I forgot to see how much and get a receipt (fail), but I read that it's somewhere between $.20-.40. So, I guess that money goes to her charity. Or to Gayle and Stedman. Or to starting new television shows. Or to publishing more copies of The Secret. But most likely it's to the charity.
While it is fuller in flavor than the regular chai, the Oprah chai is actually lower in calories. Of course it is.
I was honestly not expecting to like Oprah's latte. I thought it was just another one of those random celebrity things like Kim Kardashian saying she wears Sketchers or something. Then Starbucks could charge us more and give us the same thing, all because Oprah. But I was wrong. Maybe it's just the Oprah Effect, but I will probably order the Oprah chai from now on. This marks a new time of empowerment in my life. I can feel it.
Have you tried the Oprah chai yet? What did you think? What other celebrities should have their own coffee shop beverage and what would it be?