This is an excerpt from the January/February issue of Tea MagazineTM
They’ve spent years developing the perfect balance of spice and sweet for a tantalizingly warm chai concentrate. They’ve traveled to the mountains of India to find the one place where their chai could be flash-dried to a hot water-soluble powder. They’ve sold from food carts and bike trailers and started their distribution with a single store. These are America’s chai sellers.
Devotion to chai is spreading across the country, making its way out of the coffee shops to grocery stores and people’s stovetops. Committed coffee drinkers are replacing their usual morning brew with the energizing kick of black tea combined with the power of ginger, cardamom, cloves, and milk.
Ricardo Da Costa of Yogic Chai can speak firsthand about the attraction of chai for the coffee set. When he started Yogic he sold his tea from his “chai cycle,” a trailer attached to a bicycle that he rode to commuter train stations in New Jersey. Then he was offered a permanent space in one of the stations that had previously been run by a coffee seller. “We offered coffee because it was important for commuters but we kept giving out samples of chai. Within two years, 60% of the coffee drinkers had switched to chai.”
The appeal is echoed by Julian Fields, General Manager of Oregon’s Sattwa Chai. Founded in 1995, Sattwa was one of the early entrants to the American chai market. “The blend of spices with black tea gives you energy in the morning like coffee, but it’s more balanced.” It is no accident that their original distribution route was through coffee roasters across the country.
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