Founded by close friends Jasmine and Lauren and established in March 2021, Chai Blue grew from a shared love of traditional chai. Bringing back the custom of making chai at home and from raw spices and loose-leaf tea, Chai Blue offers delicious, organic, environmentally conscious, and authentic blends.
Hawkker spoke with the co-founders about their journey so far, their love for tea, and the importance of traditional chai-making.
How did Chai Blue get started?
Having met at University, over the years Jasmine has often made Lauren her family chai recipe, and she’s always been obsessed with it – no other chai compares! Over the course of the pandemic, we had many conversations about what we want to do in the future, one of them being to set up a business, which is a passion we both shared. We also have always shared our love of tea.
After a long phone call between us (which happens regularly!), we had a lightbulb moment: to share Jasmine’s amazing family tea with the world. Loose leaf, to protect the traditional nature of the chai and at home, bringing that family feel back to the experience of making chai in the kitchen. The rest is history!
What’s behind the name of your brand?
We had a couple of ideas for names, but nothing really felt right. Eventually – and as cliché as it sounds – Lauren actually had a dream about the company being named after a colour (she swears all of her best ideas come from her dreams, a great excuse to nap more!) and from there, Chai Blue was born! We both love the ocean and the colour blue. To us, it represents patience, sensitivity, freedom and imagination, which are things we love to experience when drinking our tea… and it rings well, so it felt absolutely right.
What has been your approach to building this business, and what kind of values do you aim to promote?
We are both extremely passionate about tea and we share the same values, especially when it comes to family, socialising and friendship, and sharing real life experiences with others. For us, protecting the tradition of Indian chai and the homely comfort of making chai is so important to us. We really aim to be as authentic and open as possible, using high quality spices and sticking to the raw experience when making our tea, which is why it is all loose leaf – to protect the taste and beautiful smell of the spices. We genuinely want to make sure our customers love it as much as we do! We also aim to always be ethical and sustainable, using recyclable/biodegradable packaging and with minimal waste, as we are super conscious of our impact on the planet.
How do you source all your great ingredients?
We are really lucky in that some of Jasmine’s family-friends and contacts from India are spice and tea suppliers, which means that we can work closely with them. With the pandemic, this has sometimes been quite tricky, so we also source from local Indian markets whilst we try and navigate the restrictions.
What has been your biggest challenge since launching in March?
Not drinking all the tea for ourselves! As a small, local business, we pack from our homes (from both Wiltshire and Hounslow) and so having the tea spices lingering whilst we both also work from home is always tempting!
Can you tell us a little more about yourselves, and what tea/chai means to you?
Lauren: Tea has always been a really important part of my family’s daily routine, growing up and as an adult. It’s always been a comfort drink, a social drink, and a drink to make you feel better on a bad day – my nan lived by the motto “a good cup of tea can solve anything,” which I have definitely taken on into my adult life!
Jasmine introduced me to authentic chai and the same sentiment has been extended; chai is like the extravagant older sister of English Breakfast Tea, and it always reminds me of being “home”. Jasmine and her family are like family to me, so it’s really special that we can both share our love for tea and both of our families through Chai Blue.
Jasmine: I’d echo that! Being born into a busy, cosy and very close Punjabi family in West London, I have spent the majority of my childhood in the kitchen alongside my grandparents, on my tip toes learning to make Indian chai. So chai to me is really about family and my link to the culture I grew up in. I have been a plant-based food lover for the past couple of years, so tea is one of the things that has genuinely never changed throughout my life.
What do you wish more people knew about chai?
How good it is for you, and for the planet! Because Chai Blue is all loose-leaf, the leftover spices are easily compostable, and there are so many health benefits attached to raw spices. Also, how easy (and special!) the traditional way of making chai is – once you have “proper” loose-leaf chai, you will genuinely never go back.
Why is making chai at home the best way to enjoy it?
For us, the more commercialised chai has become, the more the tradition of chai has been lost. Bringing that tradition back to chai with loose-leaf tea means you have the full experience of making tea, with fully embodied spices that retain their flavour in a way you don’t get when they are ground. British and Indian culture is so tea-oriented, but also so busy, so making the chai in your own space is a real mindfulness experience where you can take a break from a busy time to truly do something for yourself.
How did you develop your blends?
Jasmine’s amazing knack for cooking and honing in on her family recipes are to thank here. The Original Blend is traditional Masala chai, and The Bold Blend is our own balance of spices for Karak chai. We also incorporated a subtly spiced chai named The Warm Blend which is a simple blend of cardamom and cinnamon that tastes delicious.
What blend would you recommend for chai newbies, and for those wanting to discover new flavours?
We always recommend The Original Blend (masala chai) to chai newbies as an introduction, as it’s the tea that you instantly recognise as chai. We also recommend The Warm Blend to those who are not as familiar with chai but love herbal teas.