Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not Quite As Robust As The Spiced Chai, Big Train Chai Vanilla Chai Is Degraded Some On The Flavor Front!

The Good: Does not taste bad, Easy to prepare, Comparatively affordable
The Bad: Environmental impact of packaging, Not the most distinctive or pleasant flavor
The Basics: Vanilla Chai instant hot chai drink from Big Train Chai is only a fair substitute for prepared beverages of the same ilk.

Following on the heels of my Big Train Spiced Chai review (that’s here!), I was thrilled that my wife’s birthday gifts to me included other flavors of Big Train Chai’s instant chai drinks. In addition to the Spiced Chai flavor, she picked me up some Vanilla Chai and it was enjoyable as well. I am not a huge fan of vanilla flavored beverages, in general, but the Vanilla Chai drink from Big Train Chai is a flavorful (not bland) alternative to coffee, tea, or vanilla cocoas!


The Vanilla Chai instant chai mix is part of the Big Train Chai premium chai drink line. The mix comes in a 1.2 oz. sealed foil package and is a pretty delicious mix. Each 1.2 oz. packet is a single serving and these bear a relatively high price tag virtually everywhere I have found them of approximately a dollar and a half per packet. For a single mug of cocoa, this is expensive when compared to other make-at-home products, but far less expensive than getting a chai drink at a place like Europa Cafe (reviewed here!).

Ease Of Preparation

The Big Train Chai Vanilla Chai hot chai mix is ridiculously simple to make. Having been given a packet on my birthday, it is evident that this has a decent shelf life, though there is no expiration date on the packet. Because it is sealed and has some artificial preservatives in is, this is likely to last virtually forever unopened. A single serving is the packet and six oz. of water. There is no measuring of the product involved!

As a result, preparation is ridiculously simple. The top of the envelope has a perforated edge and one need simply tear open the top, which is quite easy, and pour the contents of the packet into a mug that is at least eight ounces large. Then, simply pour hot water, near boiling, over the powder and stir. Stir the powder until there are no blobs of chai powder visible in the water nor resistance from the bottom. The beverage will have a very light rown color with a milky hue to it and will be uniformly smooth.


Vanilla Chai smells thoroughly like vanilla and cinnamon. The aroma is inviting and smooth.

In the mouth, the Vanilla Chai is very milky with strong cinnamon undertones. The flavor is sweet and creamy that tastes lightly like vanilla and slightly more like sour milk. The flavor is good, but hardly as distinctive or incredible as one might like.

The Vanilla Chai beverage has a very dry aftertaste that lingers for about five minutes.


Big Train Chai produces instant chai mixes and therefore not the most nutritious things in the known world, though the Vanilla Chai flavor could be far less nutritious than it is. Vanilla Chai has a few ingredients that cannot be easily identified. The primary ingredients are sugar, nonfat milk and nondairy creamer. Because of the milk right at the top of the ingredient list, it is in no way vegan compliant.

And it is high in sugars. In each cup of Vanilla Chai Cocoa Classics, there are 140 calories, twenty-five of which are from fat. There are 2.5 grams of saturated fat, so while one might be tempted to curl up and enjoy this while resting, they are likely to pay for it later on! While there is no cholesterol, a consumer gets 2% of their recommended daily allowance of sodium out of a single packet of this beverage! There is a little protein, but not enough to live off this. In other words, this product is not a nutritious food product. But, given that one cup provides 8% of the RDA of Calcium, it could be worse!

This product contains soy and milk and because there are no notations on it, one must assume it is not Kosher or gluten-free.


So long as one leaves the Vanilla Chai Cocoa Classic powder in its packet, it ought to stay usable. The packets, for those of us who consider the environmental impact of such things, are terribly wasteful and expensive. The foil/plastic wrappers are not recyclable anywhere I've been.

Cleanup is very easy as well. If the product spills while dumping it into the mug, simply wipe it up or brush it up with a dry or damp cloth. If it has already been reconstituted with water into a chai drink, simply wipe it up. Light fabrics are likely to stain if this gets on them, in which case consult your fabric care guide to clean it up.


Big Train Chai Vanilla Chai is good, but not as distinctive as the first chai beverage I tried from Big Train Chai. The more I consumed (I had several packets), the less the initial flavor tasted like sour milk and more it tasted like sweetened, heated, creamer. This was a worthwhile beverage compared to spending tons of money on a similar, prepared, drink, but a harder sell on its own.

For other instant hot drinks, please visit my reviews of:
Land O' Lakes Double Fudge & Chocolate Cocoa
Nescafe Caramel Latte Memento
Mott's Hot Apple Pie Instant Cider


For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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