by Sierra Guardiola
Step aside pumpkin spice, there’s a new contender for the ultimate fall drink. During the height of the autumn season, I always find myself on the hunt for a new go-to specialty beverage that I can order when the classic coffee or tea feels a little boring. I never know if it’s time to switch over to warm beverages or stick with the iced ones during this time of the year, which usually leaves me feeling uneasy about what an exciting new choice could be. But this year as I was itching to find a new drink to satisfy me, I noticed a drink that was new to me called chaider kept appearing. The first time I heard of chaider was at Apple Fest on The Commons in Ithaca. At one of the food trucks they had hot chaider for sale. As a chai lover and apple lover I figured this was meant to be. I ordered myself a cup and immediately fell in love with the flavor of fall in every sip.
Chaider is essentially a chai latte that uses apple cider as a replacement for milk. When chai is mixed with apple cider, the sweetness becomes balanced out by the crisp taste of the cider, offering a more mildly sweet option than your typical chai latte in my opinion. It is usually served hot, since it is a fall favorite that stays popular through the winter months.
Chai itself is just another word for tea. The type of chai we think of when describing the spiced milk tea from India is known as masala chai. Its sweet and creamy, and can be served hot or iced. Since it is spiced, it has strong flavors like cinnamon that stand out and remind me of fall immediately. Some of the other spices commonly used in chai are cardamom, whole cloves, black peppercorns, and ginger.
While the mystery food truck at Apple Fest was my first introduction to chaider, it’s possible to find this fall favorite at most coffee shops. Since it is just chai and apple cider, most places can make this combination if they already offer both beverages. In recent weeks Collegetown Bagels, who just moved into their new space on The Commons, and Ithaca Bakery have been advertising that customers can get hot or iced chaider. It’s also possible to order chaider at national chains like Starbucks, even though you won’t find it advertised on their menu.