Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte Mix

Of all the pumpkin products I've tried this year, I think this one's the most underrated. It certainly doesn't have the internet buzz that many other fall foods do this year, but sometimes the best things come when they're least expected.

This beverage certainly isn't much to look at. But dishwater gray or not, this stuff is sweet and flavorful, and in my opinion, exactly what you'd want a pumpkin chai to be. There's still plenty of classic chai spices in the mix, like clove and cardamom, but they blend very nicely with the more pumpkinesque spices like nutmeg and allspice. And it seems as if both types of drinks traditionally contain ginger and cinnamon. Mix it all together with sugar and a base of black tea, and you have yourself one tasty, exotic brew.

I'm generally into cold beverages more than hot ones, so I followed the directions for a "cold chai latte," pouring the drink over ice after mixing. I substituted water with milk. I tried both almond milk and cow's milk, and I honestly think almond worked best with this mix (although there is powdered nonfat cow's milk in the mix already). You really have to stir this stuff like crazy to get all the little crystals to dissolve in the liquid, but the excessive agitation not only swirls all the ingredients together, but gives the drink the slightest bit of foaminess, too. The tea definitely has some caffeine in it, so get ready for a little buzz with your beverage.

Now I must admit that some of that buzz just might be from the sugar, though. Sonia thinks the mix is too sweet, so she simply used less of the mix in her milk. I guess 23 grams of sugar per serving safely excludes this product from the category of "diet drink," but it's still significantly less than say, a can of coke, for perspective—and sweet-toothed me drank it up like a fat kid at a soda fountain.

At $3.99, a can containing eight quality chai lattes is a decent deal. Sonia is still holding steady with her string of solid four's for this year's pumpkin blitz. This time, I'm going with four stars also.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

8 comments:

  1. I totally disagree with you. I drink their usual chai mix all the time and thought the pumpkin one was disgusting and I couldn't drink more than one sip ! This will be one I will take back and take advantage of their fabulous exchange policy !!

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    1. Fair enough, Elaine. All the more for us ;)

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  2. I love both chai mixes - though it should be said that this one has some real pumpkin, and that is what makes the sediment. Pumpkin is not water soluble. ;)

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    1. I can deal with a little pumpkin sediment when it tastes this good, Astrid :)

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  3. Thanks for this review --- I wanted to go buy some, but they were already sold out! Not just this mix, but the pumpkin spice rooibos herbal blend too!

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    1. You're welcome! Hope they get some back in stock.

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  4. Thank God for the return policy! I actually wanted to vomit when I tried and smelled this one. Guess I'm not a pumpkin chai person

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  5. I love chai, I love pumpkin, but I hate both their chai and pumpkin chai latte mixes. Honestly the worst thing I've ever bought at TJs. It's the only product I've ever taken back because of it too. Blech.

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