Vishal Thapar and Rushil Desai found real Indian chai missing in the Boston area and so they set up The Boston Chai Party, a wholesome beverage start up. They sell Indian masala chai ingredients including chai concentrates, a chai kit, chai masala, as well as Assam tea leaves. They grind their masala every week and source fresh leaves every four months.
The duo also offers lessons on making the cuppa and have tied up with Wild Flower Pantry, a local grocery in Brighton, to organize the chai evenings. “Chai is a simple drink that promotes coming together and conversing. We want to allow people to taste and experience chai for themselves, controlling all the ingredients and flavors that make it such a unique drink. Help us spread the word! Chai’s the limit,” say Vishal and Rushil.
They say their “focus is two-fold: teaching people how to make chai and providing them the best ingredients to make it themselves. We are solving what we see as a problematic current state of Chai affairs in the US. Major chains have done our favorite beverage a disservice, so we want to appeal directly to the people and bring about a Chai-volution!”
All over India, in every nook and corner, one can find chai shops brewing a combination of black tea leaves, masala or spices including cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom and to this is added water, milk and sugar. In cold places, even almonds are added the concoction. There are variations with jaggery too.
Say The Boston Chai Party entrepreneurs, “We source our own black tea leaves from the fair- trade Amgoori Garden in Assam, India. Notably, owners of Amgoori respect the workers unlike other owners of tea gardens in Assam. Black, Assam tea is essential for Chai. Additionally, we grind our spices or masala every single week. Our masala consists of cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, cloves, dried ginger, star anise, and black pepper.”
Bhakti Chai: In 2002, Brook Eddy travelled to India and fell in love with two things - “Bhakti” and the spicy taste and unforgettable aroma of a cup of homemade chai tea. She found that in sharing a cup of spicy chai with families she met, they were also sharing their zest for life and their dedication to the ritual of taking time during the day to drink in the moment.
Brook returned home to Colorado and began experimenting with brewing her own chai, layering fragrant spices and including fresh-pressed ginger for that extra bold zing she had experienced in India. Her friends and neighbours became her first “customers.” They quickly became fervent fans and followers of her incredible Chai and the social action principles of Bhakti. Their enthusiasm let her know this was the bold, spicy path her life should take. This sowed the seeds of Bhakti Chai.
An American magazine report says she started selling mason jars with her one-of-a-kind infusion from the back of her car and in no time she had the huge fan following. “I’m a white girl born of hippie parents in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and then raised in Michigan, right? I shouldn’t really have this pulse for India, but I do. I love the chaos and vibrancy. Every time I come I’m introduced to something new. It’s just real,” the report quoted Eddy as saying. In 2014, Brook Eddy was on the top 5 finalist in the Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Entrepreneur Of The Year” award.
"I realized the recipe I had crafted for myself, a fiery fresh ginger chai, could be produced for cafés and retailers to bring people not only 'India in a cup,' but build a mission-driven company on the tenants of bhakti," she says.
Turning Indian spices into conscious dollars, Eddy has become a principal translator in this industry. "I want customers to say, 'Whatever Bhakti does it's amazing because I trust them. It's going to have soul,'" she says. "So maybe someday it's sauces or chutneys or snacks or food or a brick-and-mortar concept. And maybe the pulse and the vibration of India will come through somehow. I want that to be the legacy,” says the report.
Rose Higashi and Kathleen Pedulla are an aunt (Rose) and niece (Kathleen) who grew up in a multi-cultural family in which afternoon tea was a part of daily life. Rose recently returned from an intensive tour of India, where she experienced many culinary delights, from street food in the Old Delhi spice markets to a gourmet meal at Ziya, a Michelin-starred Indian fusion restaurant at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, says their website www.myteaplanner.com.
She also experienced “high tea” at Banjaar Tola, a safari camp in Kanha National Park, one of India’s largest wildlife preserves, where a staff of highly trained chefs provides gourmet Indian meals for all of the guests. In addition, Rose and her husband took a cooking class in New Delhi where they learned to make the Green Chutney. “The most encouraging food related news Rose brought back from India is the affirmation that most Indian families still eat three home cooked meals a day, all freshly prepared from natural ingredients, and Indians avoid eating leftovers whenever possible,” says Katheleen in her blog.