We Tried It: Oprah Winfrey’s New Chai Tea

04/30/2014 at 01:54 PM ET

Oprah Surprises Patrons for Launch of Oprah Chai
Kevin Mazur/Getty

WHAT: Oprah Winfrey‘s new Oprah Chai Tea, available at Starbucks and Teavana stores nationwide

WHO TRIED IT: Mark Marino, Deputy Editor, PEOPLE.com

WHY HE VOLUNTEERED: Pure curiosity — oh, and he loves Oprah.

Yes, I love Starbucks. And yes, I love Oprah. So when the two married and gave birth to Oprah Chai Tea, I couldn’t wait to meet their new arrival. And Tuesday morning, it happened. I was ordering my usual venti Iced Coffee at Starbucks when I noticed small sample cups of an unfamiliar beverage on the counter. I picked one up. I tasted it. My life changed.

It was an Oprah Chai Latte. And it was amazing. Spicy, sweet, comforting. It’s described as a “bold infusion of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves,” but to me, it tastes like a hug from Oprah.

I walked out of the store with my iced coffee but couldn’t stop thinking about that little shot of Oprah. Why was it so special? Did the media mogul herself bless each beverage before they were handed to customers? Was Gayle somewhere in the back, frothing up the milk? Finally, that afternoon, I returned to Starbucks for a big ol’ venti Oprah Chai Latte. And it was bliss.

Thankfully, Starbucks sells the Teavana tea blend in canisters and kits, so you can take Oprah home with you. But is she as warm and comforting when not handled by a barista? I decided to find out.

Oprah Surprises Patrons for Launch of Oprah Chai
Kevin Mazur/Getty

HOT STUFF
First, I tried the tea hot, without milk or sugar (it’s naturally sweet). While I usually stick to mild teas like Earl Grey and herbal blends, I really enjoyed the zing of the Oprah Chai and its Christmassy clove and cinnamon. But this wasn’t as comforting as the latte version I had in the shop; it had a kick. Remember how Oprah used to introduce celebrity guests on her talk show by yelling out their names? “Please welcome … JOHHHN TRAVOLTAAAAAAA!!!” It’s the liquid form of that. It wakes you up a bit — ideal for those mornings when you need a little “oomph.”

NEVER TOO LATTE
Still seeking that Oprah nirvana, I added milk to the tea. It tasted smoother and more mellow. I imagine this is what they would have served at Oprah’s Book Club, had the tea existed back in the day. I don’t have a book club, but I would definitely serve this to guests or drink it in the afternoon while reading a book.

THE BIG CHILL
Finally, I tried my hand at making an iced latte. Basically, I added ice. And, like an “aha” moment, it hit me: I suddenly felt very zen and relaxed, like everything was right in the world. This must be how the Oprah’s ‘Favorite Things’ show audience felt after coming down from their extreme highs. It was like drinking a cup of love, on the rocks. I didn’t quite feel hugged by Oprah, more like I was basking in her glow. I have found my go-to summer drink.

THE VERDICT
Like the woman herself, the Oprah Chai tea is magical. It’s delicious hot or cold, with milk or without, and is good as a pick-me-up or wind-me-down at any time of day. Most of us will never get a chance to meet Oprah, but I tell you, this is the next best thing.

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Showing 21 comments

Anonymous on

Chai tea is hardly new nor is it new to Starbucks. It is a tea commonly drank in India

Shelby on

I tried Oprah’s Chai Tea Latte and it did not live up to the hype. I’m back to the Classic Chai Tea.

slawson on

Wow…Great writer!

I don’t even drink tea or coffee and I feel like running to starbucks to get me one of those. Writer, you did a good job because you actually have me convinced.

my name on

chai means tea, so when you order chai tea you’re asking for tea tea.

Anonymous on

I did see this Oprah thing on the menu yesterday at Starbucks. What’s next?

deb on

Finally, while travelling around the USA last year, it was so hard to find anyone that even knew what Chai latte was, let alone sell it. YAY! You have caught up to the rest of the World!

Stephanie on

Love this article!!!!!!

Really? on

I am in agreement with the other person…who pointed out that CHAI means TEA. I do not understand why everyone here in the US keeps calling it Chai Tea. Tea Tea? To say it correctly, it shoud be called Marsala Tea or just Spiced Tea. Or Cardamon Tea….which is the main spice. For those of us who have lived in India…..it just sounds ridiculous! You would think that Oprah woud have people checking their facts before producing it with that name. Sigh! Really?

Really? on

excuse the typo…..Masala…..not Marsala……

amh on

I had this today. I drink chai every day and the Oprah version was NOT my cup of tea. Not good. I will stick to the classic chai, thanks.

Anonymous on

This drives me crazy. Chai means tea in Hindi. People in America are just calling it “Tea tea”.

kathy on

Has nobody noticed the ring on the third finger of her left hand in the picture?? lol…

trinori on

Wow, she must have paid you well to write that sycophantic crap

Elon Bomani on

I do not like tea nor coffee…I was curious to see if this tea lived up to the hype and Oprah’s excitement…I must admit it was soooo delicious!!!

As a naturopath and having lived in Japan for a couple of years, I have learned to tolerate tea for its medicinal purposes.

I bought the tea for some Mom friends for Mother Day because the gift boxes are gorgeous and I know they love Oprah.

My son enticed me to try the tea with soy milk since I don’t do regular milk. I could not believe it!

I LOVE Oprah’s Chai Tea!!

It is delicious and it reminds me of a delicious snack like pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie or carrot cake-I can not decide.

Moreover, I feel the love from Oprah in this tea..sounds kind of silly but you have to try the tea to fully understand it.

I wholeheartedly agree with the writer of this story….you feel the warm hug and love with each sip that you take of Oprah Chai Tea….ok, Oprah Tea Tea…lol

My kids raved about, too…Kids drinking tea and asking me to take them to Starbucks for a cup?

…..only Oprah could do this!!! She has done it, again!!!

I

Liz on

Deb, you can get a chai latte at practically every coffee shop in America, and have been able to for the last 15 years.

DAWN on

How much money does ONE and I do mean ONE person need??? She is really becoming like a “working” girl..will sell anything to make a buck!! Her TV network is tanking, her show CANCELLED, so next best thing?? Sell yourself to the highest bidder. Go away in some dignity..no really, just go away.

Anonymous on

I tried this tea and it was terrible. The original chai tea that Starbucks sells has more flavor and spice to it than Oprah’s chai tea. She claims indian chai inspired her but it tastes more like warm milk.

vamanos on

Funny article.
But Starbucks sucks, I don’t go there. I’m sad Oprah aligned with them, because I like her.

steve4arleen on

I agree with the above — HOWEVER — I bought the box at Starbuck’s for $14.95…..Nowhere on the can did it mention the amount of tea inside. By the size of the box and price, I assumed it would be comparable to Harney teas — and that there would be 24-30 bags inside. I was shocked when I saw a crummy, wrinkled bag of loose-leaf tea (perhaps enough for 8 cups?) inside…..I feel I paid for marketing, packaging, and the Oprah name……VERY Disappointed.

steve4arleen on

I agree with the above — HOWEVER — I bought the box at Starbuck’s for $14.95…..Nowhere on the can did it mention the amount of tea inside. By the size of the box and price, I assumed it would be comparable to Harney teas — and that there would be 24-30 bags inside. I was shocked when I saw a crummy, wrinkled bag of loose-leaf tea (perhaps enough for 8 cups?) inside…..I feel I paid for marketing, packaging, and the Oprah name……VERY Disappointed.

Anonymous on

I love Starbucks tea, especially the Chai. They talked me into the Oprah Chai last time I was in because the ran out of the other. Didn’t like it at all. Not what they advertised…tasted very watered down. Now I know why they were out of the other. Not a real tea for hard core tea drinkers. The main ingredient is “hype.” It always comes down to money. A good example is the person who spoke of how little they get in their box of tea.

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