There’s a place in DC near the U Street Corridor called ACKC that is filled to the brim with chocolate. Their chocolate is pretty good, but the real reason I find myself trekking out there during the cold season is for their hot chocolate. It’s a good walk from the nearest metro station, which is a good thing because though I’ve never asked for the nutritional information [mostly out of fear] I’m positive it’s not the healthiest thing in the world. One of my favorite things to do when it’s chilly out is to get a cup of this stuff and wander up and down 14th street, because they have all kinds of fun, boutique-y shops over there.
They have a lot of different kinds of hot chocolate, but a quick front runner for me is what they call the Lucy, named after Lucille Ball because of her fiery personality. They add a little chipotle and cinnamon, and it gives it a nice kick that becomes especially enjoyable when the cold starts to bite at you.
Decaffeinated Chai Agni reminds me of the Lucy. It doesn’t taste so much like chocolate, which makes sense [though I do taste chocolate notes], but it is freaking good. It’s got that heat from the chili pepper and it marries well with the spices they use in the chai.
I made this like I make all of my chai – 2 cups water, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp chai, 2 cups milk. I let it sit for as long as I could until the smell filled the house and I couldn’t take the waiting any more. I also stuck half of it in the fridge, so I’ll likely log my thoughts on it chilled once I drink it. It’s different from my favorite – Samovar’s Masala Chai – but not in a bad way.
So, here are my final thoughts. First and foremost: the chili. It can’t be ignored and it’s both a blessing and a curse. I’d say that more often than not, I’m going to want it without, but there are definitely times that I am going to crave that kick. The chai base is solid and good enough to stand on its own in my opinion, but that spicy heat is what makes it special.
Secondly, the fact that it’s decaffeinated is rather brilliant. Chai is more of a mid-afternoon to evening fare for me, and caffeine will keep me up longer than I want it to if I don’t time things carefully. [Funny that Carolyn just posted that stuff in the forums that mentioned that Asians metabolize caffeine more slowly.]
This is not only more easily accessible than hot chocolate in DC, it’s very likely better for me and cheaper both by the cup and because I avoid spending money at stores. I’m not saying that it’s a complete replacement, as there is definitely something to be said for the experience of window shopping with a friend and hot chocolate in hand, but am I going to buy some so I have it at hand when I want it immediately? Absolutely.