An Unusual Review
A few years ago, Jennifer and I visited a store in Eagle Rock called Glaco’s, which claims to have the largest supply of rare and hard-to-find sodas in the Los Angeles area. And indeed, I have seen nothing to make me think that this boast is false: they are a largeish (although not warehouse sized, more like the size of the inside of a large McDonalds) location packed to the proverbial rafters with different sorts of sodas. They have your usual Coke, Pepsi, 7-Up, sure, but they also have things like a mint julep soda, a hundred variations of ginger ale/ginger beer (some of them QUITE strong), entire runs of things like Jack Black’s and other, more rare brands.
And they had a line of sodas by a company called XTC that included a chai cola soda. It was delicious.
Chai, if you’re unaware, is a spiced Asian tea (mostly famous for being from India, although some neighboring countries also brew it). It is a black tea, with ingredients like cinnamon, clove, cardamon, and other, regional variation spices. For a long time, the only place you could consistently get it was Indian restaurants, and the Ren Faire. Then it suddenly started becoming popular, and now you can get it at most coffee shops like CBTL and (a very bad version at) Starbucks. Other than the CBTL one, however, they tend to be powdered mixes, or syrups that sort of vaguely taste like Chai. CBTL is the only major chain I’ve seen that actually makes it with real tea. But anyways, back to the cola.
We bought a couple bottles just to try them out, this XTC Chai Cola, and found they were awesome. So the next time we were in the area (Eagle Rock isn’t exactly a convenient location for us) we bought a whole bunch, to ‘last us.’ Yeah right, they ‘lasted us’ about a week. But still, about once every 3 or 4 months, we would find ourselves close enough to that store to justify going over there and loading up on it.
Then some things happened in our lives, and we stopped even occasionally going that direction. We were sad, but always in the back of our minds was the idea that we would find XTC somewhere else. And eventually, we did.
BevMo started carrying it… for about 6 months. Then they stopped. We were sad again. A couple of years went by.
A few months ago, we discovered a big beverage warehouse place in Culver City that, while mostly devoted to spirits, did have a wall of soda. So naturally, we checked. They didn’t have XTC. So I asked the guys who worked there if they could order it. They had never heard of it. They tried looking it up online, and found that the website was down and there was no reference to that company at all. Another victim of the recession, it seemed. Once again, we were sad.
Last weekend, on a lark, we stopped by Cost Plus World Market in El Segundo to take advantage of their red wine sale. And by total accident, we noticed a bottle of soda that claimed to be Chai Cola. Not XTC, mind you, this one is from a company called Taylor’s Tonics Botanical Brewery. We figured what the heck and picked up a few bottles.
I’m here to say that this stuff is awesome. It is not as sweet on the tongue as most sodas you are probably used to, but it is very flavorful and delicious. I highly recommend it, especially if you are tired of the overly-sweet regular sodas available to you.
According to their website, they sell through Cost Plus (which I knew), Whole Foods, and BevMo (which I’m skeptical about, having never seen it there), as well as a bunch of other places I’ve never heard of. Do yourself a favor and check them out.
They also have a Light version as well as Aztec and Mojito inspired sodas (none of which I have yet tried).
So RIP XTC, we’ll always remember you fondly. But Long Live Taylor’s!