Organic black tea and non-irradiated spices make for vibrant, bold cup of chai, rich on the cardamom, nutmeg and fennel, and easily better than any I've found at a cafe. A suggestion to add grated ginger to milk before steeping is advice worth heeding, that small touch makes all the difference.
'Sugar Rush' on Serious Eats
Starbucks Frappuccinos were an obsession of mine until I moved to New York and realized just how many other better blended icy coffee concoctions there are in this city of ours. I've been drinking my way through many of New York's offerings, and have narrowed down my favorite espresso-based blended drinks to two places.
All the way in the back of Lifethyme, a health food market in the West Village, is a juice and smoothie stand. The all-fruit and vegetable juices are ordinary, but Coconut Smoothies ($7.50) stands out from the rest. These smoothies are fruit-based, your pick from fruit choices including blueberries, strawberries, and apples. Next comes the awesome part: a whole coconut blended in with the smoothie.
My current favorites include the Peppermint (pictured above) from their herbal tea line—bright, fresh, and made with Moroccan mint leaves. The tea is sold loose or in bags of 25, packaged in their signature silky and gauze-like Cristal bags.
I've always been skeptical of Liquiteria in the East Village, seemingly favored by only the most health-obsessed individuals. But I finally stopped in the other day after years of curiosity. It was the Grasshopper in the hands of a girl, fresh out of her morning yoga session, that caught my eye—a concoction of pear, apple, and pineapple juice, fresh-squeezed in front of my eyes, with not an ounce of added sweeter. And if that alone doesn't spell health to you, they also blend in a shot of wheatgrass and fresh mint leaves.
My smoothie consumption increases manifold during the summer. I have a mental list of all my favorite spots in town for these sweet drinks-as-meals, and one of these places is Moomah Cafe in Tribeca.
At Taim, the falafels are the city's best and the fries are just as good. As for the smoothies? Among the best in the city. Fresh fruit, little sugar, with the final drink more towards icy and refreshing than creamy and filling.