Friday Happy Hour: Teaism Chai Shake

When I was in high school in Dupont Circle, I had a friend who worked part-time at the R Street Teaism. Occasionally, to amuse herself during shifts, she would play a bit with the yuppies and faux-autheticity-seeking customers who came along. When one of them ordered the chai shake, she would “correct” their pronunciation.

“The chai shaa-KAY?” she would say. Clearly Teaism was a place too fancy for a pedestrian shake. Most times, the customer would quickly follow along. “The shaa-KAY. Of course. That is what I meant.” Part of the game was to see how many would then order it that way next time – and many did.

The thing is, though, this hot-weather treat which I have now been enjoying for ten years is not exactly a normal milkshake. It is icier than that and thinner, clearly also not a smoothie. Some other kind of frappéd concoction of summertime deliciousness.

Based on cinnamon gelato from Teaism’s neighbors at Dolcezza, the drink has a variety of spices and flavors associated with Western versions of Masala Chai. Cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla… delight.

Teaism’s chai shake is what I drank after my last day of high school, the day I graduated university, and on plenty of beautiful, hot, Washington summer days before and since. It still makes me happy to be a bit silly and order the “shaa-KAY.”

Brittany has tried to leave DC, it just never lasts. She has lived in Chicago, California, and China – but she always comes back home. Brittany is a drinks, nightlife, and style correspondent for We Love DC. Between columns, you can find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or standing by the bar. Email her at brittany(at)

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