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Friday, May 24, 2019

Trader Joe's Spiced Chai Black Tea Concentrate

As long as I've known her, one of Sonia's go-to beverages has been Oregon Chai. It's kind of appropriate to mention it now, since we'll be traveling through Oregon in just a few days. But anyway, she's been on a bit of a chai kick lately, even before spotting this new chai concentrate at TJ's. 

Although I rarely seek it out above other beverages, I generally enjoy chai and I've tried plenty of different varieties and brands throughout the years. Just from Trader Joe's alone, we've seen pretty decent chai tea bags and powdered chai mix, among others. So what sets this product apart from the pack?

Well, it's concentrated, obviously. The bottle asks for two parts milk or non-dairy beverage to every one part chai. We used almond milk. That 2:1 ratio seemed right on the money to me. I usually have to get rebellious when it comes to preparation instructions, but not here.

Also, this stuff is actually spicy. There's a warmth you can feel as you drink the beverage, and it lingers in the mouth for a bit after you're done. Neither of us found it unpleasant, but I could see some folks seeking out something a little less feisty. You could always just dilute the mixture a tad more if you're in that camp.


The black tea flavor, too, is strong. Sonia thinks the biggest differences between this product and Oregon Chai is the bolder black tea flavor and stronger spiciness in this Trader Joe's offering. The Oregon version is a little lighter on both counts.

Despite its intensity, the wife and I both found it highly drinkable and don't have any major complaints. When asked if she preferred this over her beloved Oregon Chai, she said neither one is head and shoulders above the other, but her preference would depend on her mood on a given day. She said this one reminded her of a certain Tazo chai she used to drink many years ago, but hasn't had in a while.

$2.49 for a pint of concentrated chai. Along with TJ's concentrated cold brew coffees, this product is a winner in our books. Four stars a piece. 

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Trader Joe's Sparkling Watermelon Juice

Well, last week's summertime-ish cold drink experiment was a disaster, wasn't it? I mean, caramel spice...for summer? That's not exactly classic and a sure set up for, if not added scrutiny, then failure.

So let's go tried-and-true this week with Trader Joe's Sparkling Watermelon Juice.

Watermelon. The classic shirts off, hose 'em down, seed-spittin' taste of summer from youth. Nothing's better than a cold wedge of watermelon on a hot day. Can't argue that away from me.

And now, here it is...in a can!

Well...sort of.

It's undoubtedly watermelon flavored. Part of me wouldn't be surprised if the juice were the delicious byproduct of previous TJ's watermelon experiments. Wish I had some of that "jerky" still around to see if it'd puff all back to life like one of those sponge dinosaurs...oh well. life is tough.

Still, I'm not the hugest of fans. I guess it's because it's simply just so watermelon and not much else. The packaging states there's "plenty of bubbles" or something to that effect, so there was some hope there'd be some carbonation to help cut through all the sweetness. There's not, as it's more a back-end, scratch your throat on the way down kinda deal. All the watermelon taste is upfront and has a flat feel.

I guess one could pour over some ice, put a spring of rosemary, maybe even splash in some adult spirit, and that'd make a coolish drink, and that'd be good. But for me, I judge the refreshing power of a summer drink based on, "would I reach for this after mowing the lawn?" You know, when all hot and sweaty. And the answer is not really. Given the choice between this beverage or a slive of actual watermelon, I'd go for the real deal.

Of course, if on a picnic or had some other need for a portable hit of watermelon, the TJ's sparklin' stuff makes a much more convenient option, so I won't rule it out completely. Maybe it's just not totally for me.

That would make Sandy pretty happy. She loooooves this. One sip, and she was oohing and smiling as if Lin Manuel Miranda just came in the room. More for her, if she wants to pick this up I'd have no complaints. I love the receipt so need a price check, but I'm thinking it's in the general $3 range, please correct me if needed. I'll be nice and give it a 3 (maybe more for not being funky....looking at you, last week!) whereas Sandy will go a bit higher.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sparkling Watermelon Juice: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, May 20, 2019

Trader Joe's Oat & Greek Yogurt Sandwich Cookies


Blah. More cookies. I think three out of my past five reviews have been of cookies. I mean, all in all, they haven't been bad cookies. In general, Trader Joe's does cookies better than others. But I'm all cookied out right now. 

So why review these cookies today? There are far more fascinating new items on the shelves of Trader Joe's currently.

Allow me to explain...

As I mentioned last week, I have a nasty spring cold that I contracted from my lovely wife—and I can't taste anything at the moment. These cookies were the last thing I remember eating before getting the cold. Also, they're review-worthy, if only for the Greek yogurt gimmick they've got going on.


They vaguely resemble Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, but lighter in color, a little fatter, with a slightly smaller diameter. They were soft when I first opened the box—maybe not quite as soft or as oily as a classic oatmeal creme pie, but pliable enough that one would call them "chewy" before he'd call them crispy, crunchy, or even crumbly. Those first couple cookies were excellent. It was warm out at the time, so the filling, too, was super soft and creamy—gooey almost.

Now this was back a week ago. Daytime highs were hitting near 90 degrees in southern Idaho, the sun was out, and even with air conditioning on, a class C RV can get pretty toasty in no time flat. So I made the mistake of putting the cookies in the refrigerator. I thought, hey, we don't want the Greek yogurt to get all rancid in the heat, right? I asked Sonia if that made sense to her, and she informed me that the cookies were most definitely NOT refrigerated in TJ's. I still felt like the heat wouldn't do them any favors.

But since that time, they haven't tasted or felt nearly as fresh. The filling is much better when it's kinda viscous. When it's firm—like straight outta the fridge—it's meh. The cookie part, too, just tastes better at room temperature. though the difference isn't as noticeable. Don't get me wrong, they're still edible. 

Fresh or not, the flavor is sweet, tart, and tangy. There's almost a hint of lemony essence by virtue of the yogurt's tartness, but it doesn't look like there are any lemon ingredients. The cookie parts are moderately sweet, oaty, and satisfying enough. There are notes of honey and vanilla in the mixture, and they work pretty well.

Sonia's taste came back some time between the last review and this one. She likes these cookies at least as much as I do and thinks I'm exaggerating the difference between when the box was first opened and after it emerged from the fridge. Had it been up to her, they would have stayed in the pantry, but she thinks they're tasty either way. 

Even being thoroughly saturated with cookies lately, we still can't hate on these unique Greek imports. Three and a half stars from each of us.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.