How can you make a great chai tea latte at home? I know many people reach for Oregon Chai or Tazo Chai concentrates, but for Santa Cruz locals? You should reach for a jar of Masala Chai Co - found in the tea section at your local grocer The Food Bin. The way that Masala Chai Co is different from your average chai concentrate is that it is not a concentrate at all - it's a blend of "10 exotic spices with flowery darjeeling" black tea, honey, & agave nectar. The spices & tea are right there! Before your eyes! Mixed in with the sticky goodness! To prepare your latte: just mix the chai in with your favorite hot (nondairy) milk (I actually usually do half milk half water). For me, the jar lasted so much longer (several months) than a carton of concentrate ever would! & no need to refrigerate! One jar: just over $6.
Don't want to trek to The Food Bin/Herb Room just for chai? It's a great source of well-being: organic & local products all over the place! Bulk loose leaf tea & spice bins! Your ultimate vegan vitamin! Open 9am until midnight! Everything your body needs could be found right here. Need a little kitsch? They change the quote on their marquee regularly - sometimes serious, sometimes funny, always enjoyable. 1130 Mission Street.
Why buy local? Why is it important?
Want other local options, a wider variety? New Leaf can be found in two Santa Cruz locations: downtown on Pacific Ave & at 1101 Fair Ave (behind Safeway - is that somehow metaphoric? Open 8am-10pm & 9am-9pm, respectively). So many vegan options! They provide baked goods (vegan cupcakes WUT), a hot food bar, a deli/sandwich bar (tempeh BLT!), juice bar, bulk bins (this is where I always buy my nutritional yeast), & sustainable meat & cheese options (for the omnis who eat meat: keep it grass-fed/never-ever-hormone-treated/local; not that I'm condoning meat, but I'm not blind to the fact that the entire world isn't vegetarian). New Leaf even carries their own brand of wine!
For further exploration: Staff of Life Natural Foods Market at 1266 Soquel Ave. Staff of Life offers "a sushi bar, natural foods deli, bakery, gorceries, beer, wine, an expanded natural meat & fish department, organic produce department, bulk foods department, and vitamin and cosmetics departments. We are also pleased to announce our new coffee bar, Cafe del Sol and Flowers by the Flower Shack!"
Shopper's Corner - 622 Soquel Avenue, open 6am-9pm daily - self-proclaim themselves the "friendliest family-owned market." This space is where your grandmother would shop! The namesake: "A trip to Shopper's Corner is a trip back in time... to a small-town grocery store on your neighborhood's busiest corner..."
Are you on the UCSC campus & need a snack? Don't forget about the Kresge Natural Foods Co-op! Bagels, a social hang-out, a hippie-breeding ground, bulk-bins, vegan treats, crafts/handmade items, student owned & student run! Kombucha! Vegan cupcakes! Non-profit!
Of course, we can't forget The Santa Cruz Community Farmer's Markets! Downtown (located one block off of Pacific Ave. at the corner of Lincoln St. and Ceder St. in the parking lot behind Todal Fitness) on Wednesdays from 2:30pm to 6:30pm (starting an hour earlier beginning April 20th!) & on the westside on Saturdays (located in the parking lot of the Wrigley’s Building at the corner of Western Dr. and Mission St.) from 9am to 1pm. Fresh local organic farmers, prepared food vendors (such as La Vie Pure Food Collective), live music, cafe seating, handmade goods that support sustainable principles... I challenge you to find the vendor that offers $1 chais! Try the vegan samosas! Many (nearly all) fresh food vendors offer free samples of their produce :]
Not in Santa Cruz but in California & want to find where you can shop local? Check out Buy Fresh Buy Local & find out where to go.