The Yogic Chai Story...a little long, but quite entertaining ;)I guess that it all started back in Summer 2006 when I had the opportunity to travel to the foothills of the Himalayas in India to meet and spend time with my spiritual teacher, Maha Yogi Pilot Baba. Walking in the streets of New Delhi , it is not uncommon to hear Chayee! Chayee! from either a chai vendor walking with a few thermos or from a chai stand. Indians love Chai! Since my only experience with chai tea was your typical starbucks like chai, I was not very interested in trying it.
I went to the train station to catch my train to Kathgodam, a small village in the foothills of the himalayas.
8 hours later...It mush have been about 6-7 am and the train had come to a 15 min stop. I decided to step out and stretch my legs. Not even 5 min. later, a little boy approached me and all he kept saying was chayee! chayee! as he tried to persuade me to buy a cup of chai from him. I could not say no to his sparkling eyes or to the smell of the spices that were coming from the cup. The chai was totally different from what I had experienced in coffee shops in the US. It was so delicious!
At my Guru Ashram, to my surprise, masala chai was served every morning and it gave an opportunity for all of us to connect with each other and share stories while enjoying the wonderful flavors of a good cup of masala chai.
When I came back to the U.S.A., one of the many things I was missing from India, was that morning cup of masala chai, so I went to my local health food store and bought a few different blends to try. They all came in packages of 18-20 tea bags and neither one of them satisfied my craving for true masala chai. Since they all came in tea bags, I thought perhaps I should try to find some blends that came in loose or bulk form.
To my surprise, there were not that many companies offering loose chai and the ones I tried, I was not very impressed with the flavors. Note: None of the blends, including the tea bag blends were bad, they just did not taste to me like the masala chai I had tasted in India, which is what I was particularly looking for.
My search for Chai continued for a few weeks until I met Prem Prakash & Ambika Gibbs, founders of the Green Mountain School of Yoga in Vermont, also known as Kailash Ashram. As I was talking to Prem Prakash about my experience in India, out of nowhere he asked me "Do you drink Chai?" to which I replied "Oh, I miss that real cup of chai in the morning" and he said "wait until you come visit us in Vermont. Ambika makes the best chai on this side of Rishikesh!"
Few weeks passed, but it did not take long before I made my way up north to visit Prem Prakash and Ambika. I could not wait to taste her Chai. I arrived in the morning at their home/ashram where I was greeted with a warm cup of masala chai...Oh I can still remember that smell ;) Prem Prakash was right! Finally my search for a good cup of masala chai was over. Ambika chai had everything I could remember tasting in India. It had a rich black tea flavor as a base and a tasteful, well-balanced kick from the spices, which did not included black pepper, just like what I tasted at my Guru Ashram in India.
It was after meeting Ambika that I started making my own blend, using what she had suggested as the base. I started serving Chai to my students that came to the Yoga classes at the studio I used to own in Warwick, NY. I got some great feedback from my students and then I started serving Chai to anyone that visited our studio and to the people that came to our monthly Spiritual Cinema Nights. Everyone loved it!
One of my students, then Angela Pica, was really into tea at the time we met and she took me to several tea shops in Montclair, NJ and Manhattan, NY. I was learning from her about all the different tea varieties that came from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. She used to tell me about her dream of having a tea house... As an herbalist myself, I thought I could probably combine the same spices of masala chai with different varieties of tea bases. Since Chai is a great digestive formula, I decided to also add some of the chinese herbs to create different blends for different medicinal purposes. Angela and I started working together creating different blends of Chai and in less than a month, we had our first Chai stand at a Kindred Spirit Fair in Washington, NJ.
We had 6 different blends, but no brand yet. We were using the name of my yoga studio. The fair was a huge success and we were able to see the potential of what we were doing.
We spent hours and days to come up with a good name for our chai company, but nothing was clicking until we started thinking about the uniqueness of our chai and the answer was plain and simple "It is a Yogic Chai!"
Yogic Chai was registered the next day and nowadays we have over 30 blends of Chai, all made with a 100% Organic Ingredients. Angela and I are now married and we just had our first baby girl!
We hope that you enjoy our chai blends as much as we do!
Ricardo, Angela & Dalia Janaki Da Costa
The Yogic Chai Family!