Caffiend: La Grande Orange Grocery's Iced Chai Latte

Anybody who's ever been to La Grande Orange Grocery in Arcadia knows that parking is pretty tight at this super hip organic grocery/deli/coffee shop, as well as the surrounding high-end hipster restaurants like Il Postino and Radio Milano. There's sometimes even less room inside La Grande Orange, where multiple lines often wind around food, tables, and novelty gift displays. The grocery stays crowded for good reason -- even if space is at a premium, the food and caffeinated beverages are top-notch and worth giving up a little wiggle room. This week, we hit La Grande Orange's coffee counter to try the Green Tea Smoothie and a new addition to the grocery's beverage list: homemade chai latte.

La Grande Orange Grocery's Green Tea Smoothie and Iced Chai Latte
4410 N. 40th Street

The first thing one notices about the Green Tea Smoothie is its fruity green color, but there's nothing fruity tasting about the beverage. It tastes just like quality hot green tea, with an earthy, fresh leaf flavor, but is blended to a cold, smooth consistency on par with a thin milkshake. There's a slight sweetness to the smoothie, reminiscent of a touch of honey in hot tea. Final analysis: the Green Tea Smoothie is mm-mm-good, even if it doesn't provide a noticeable caffeine rush.

The homemade chai latte is one of two new kick starter drinks on La Grande Orange's menu (the other is their version of the iced toddy), and it's almost too tasty for its own good. The blend of Darjeeling tea, ginger, spices, and vanilla is so smooth, sweet, and subtle that we almost chugged the drink after a single sip. We managed to stretch our enjoyment out to a full ten minutes, and now we're waiting for the ice in our empty cup to melt, so we can drink that too. The chai gives a nice, comfortable pick-me-up effect, as well.

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