New Chai on campus disappoints students

| Contributing Reporter

While national political disputes come to a sudden close as midterm election results come out, another major issue continues to rock Washington University’s student body—the new chai latte recipe being served across campus.

On Oct. 4, the University’s dining services silently switched to using Rishi Tea’s Organic Fair Trade Masala Chai. The change was not unnoticed.

Tuesday night, as a result of overwhelmingly negative student feedback, they decided to give up the trial run. They are not, however, returning to Oregon Chai, the mix they had used for several years.

Instead, they will start testing Tazo Tea Chai, the mix sold at Starbucks.

Washington University was introduced to the Rishi chai mix through Kaldi’s, its local coffee and tea provider. The recipe is not only grown in an ecologically stable environment, it is also kosher and vegan and was awarded first place in the 2009 World Tea Championship. Imbibe Magazine gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, the best of all tested concentrates and 2.5 stars more than Oregon Chai, describing the Rishi mix as “boldly nuanced.”

Junior Carrie Kincaid’s encounter with the drink was not as favorable.

“It didn’t taste like chai, and it really sucked,” Kincaid said.

While some students enjoyed the new chai, citing that it was more authentic to real chai tea, the general consensus was strongly negative.

A worker at Whispers Cafe noted that she had been receiving countless complaints with Rishi’s chai. She also personally disliked it: “I have a lot of students that say they don’t like it, point blank. It’s too spicy; it hasn’t got enough sugar in it.”

After receiving extensive criticism of the chai recipe, workers at Whispers began to caution students about the new recipe or offer to mix in additional milk.

“Try this, you may not like it,” said a Whispers employee to a student who ordered a large iced chai.

According to Jill Duncan, director of marketing for Dining Services, the underlying intent of the change had been to provide students with a chai whose main two ingredients weren’t water and sugar, which was the case with the Oregon Chai.

“We’re always searching for the highest quality, most sustainable, best-tasting product for everybody,” Duncan said. “We want to listen to the students, and we usually only change something if there’s a need for change, if something’s old or if there’s something better out there.”

To try to fulfill these goals, the University’s Dining Services is bypassing Kaldi’s to bring students Tazo Chai, which tested successfully with its staff.

Dining Services considers the Tazo mix to be a good balance between taste and quality. As far as nutrition, however, it falls a bit shorter, with 34g of sugar in one 12-ounce cup.

The trial will last two weeks, and then Dining Services will re-evaluate.

“We have to bring back all our chefs and [our] manager and talk about what we’ve learned,” Duncan said. “We definitely don’t have a clear-cut path for the chai at this point.”

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