JASON REYNOLDS

writin' and whatnot

Lessons from a chai latte

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Every morning I have the same breakfast drink, a chai latte, and every morning I have to wait ten minutes while Simon — expert barista (and that's not a joke, dude is incredible) — goes through the process of making a perfect drink.

First he starts with the tea. Loose leaves scooped into one of those little bags. I'd be fine with just a regular tea bag, but Simon always...ALWAYS explains that the amount of tea you put in the bag, greatly affects the drink. The more tea, the more intense, the less tea, the less intense, and since chai is super caffeinated, this matters! Too much tea, and I'll be giving my best impression of a crackhead, with full on shakes and swimmy-brain.

Then he puts the tea in the hot water (I know yall already know how to make tea, but there's a point I'm making.) He leaves it in the water for, like, eight minutes. He keeps it covered with a saucer, and every four minutes he bounces the bag in the water, steeping the tea. I swear this is the longest part ever, but Simon, in all of his zen, watches the clock carefully, patiently, never cheating. Drives me crazy, this guy.

Then when it's all steeped, Simon dumps the bag. Then he pours milk into one of those little mini-kettles that all coffee shops use, and sticks that metal robot arm thing in it to heat the milk (the proper term is aerate.) Once the milk has been heated and aerated for the right amount of time, Simon takes the tea and spins it with a spoon, and as the tea is spinning he pours the milk in,creating an amazing frothy, refreshingly cozy chai latte. Perfect every time.

LESSON 1: The amount of energy you put into anything, greatly effects the strength and power of the product.

LESSON 2: Patience is key. Even with effort, there is no immediate success. (Trying eating tea leaves...gross.) Once effort is given, it's important to give it time to actually work. For instance, just because you've trained for a marathon really hard for five days straight, doesn't mean you are ready for a marathon. Effort only matters if it's coupled with patience.

LESSON 3: Dont be afraid to collaborate. In life. The tea has its own properties, it's own process. The milk has its own as well. But when you combine them, they become something new. They're still tea and milk, but now also an awesome mixture of both. The reason Simon spins the tea first, (he explains this over and over again) is so that the milk goes straight to the bottom of the cup, and then infuses with the tea, actually merging them. It's necessary to let life spin you, well you can't stop it, but after all your patience and effort, when it spins you, be looking for the collaborator to create or become something new.

Process before progress.

Oh, and I always add two raw sugars.

LESSON 4: It's your responsibility to make it sweet.