Good news for those of us who want culturally unauthentic chai produced by a mass market venue with zero regard for cultural integrity!
Oprah Winfrey is teaming up with Teavana to create her own blend of “chai tea.” The brew will be sold in time for Mother’s Day 2014 and will be sold at Teavana and Starbucks stores. Additionally, a donation from every cup sold will be made to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation which funds many organizations to help young girls attend colleges and universities.
Oprah Winfrey is an amazing woman who has accomplished so many things in her lifetime. She started off as a morning reporter and now owns her own television network. She is one of the most recognizable figures in American iconography. Her partnership with these corporations and the charity work that will come from it is great. However, the appropriation of creating her own “chai blend” sucks all the good out of what she’s doing.
The advent of the “chai tea latte,” which redundantly is called the “tea tea latte” when translated, is a horrifying concoction that is half steamed milk and half brewed tea. This creates a weak medley of poorly brewed misery. I’m not snobby with my want of a culturally authentic tea. But no matter how many “teaologists” Winfrey works with, she isn’t going to get some magical authentic version of chai.
The appropriation of exactly what chai is by Western culture is astounding, but what is unique about Winfrey is that she, too, is a minority. And she has spoken out against racism and appropriation numerous times. Micro-aggressions aren’t some harmless thing that can be swept under the rug.
Either way, here comes trouble and it’s named chai tea.