Creating an Instant Chai from Real Ingredients.
When we started Chimo Chai we had one goal: to make an instant chai latte that tasted like the chai lattes you find in big coffee chains but without all the junk ingredients.
If you look at the ingredients of most chai powders or syrups what you find is a lot of chemicals. I don’t necessarily believe that all chemicals are bad, but I do believe that a healthy gut prefers real food to fake food. And I believe that food choices add up over time. So if you have a choice, try to choose the most unadulterated food that you can.
When we looked into it, the big sticking point on using natural ingredients to make chai seemed to be preparation time. Instantly soluble chai powders that are fast to make, whereas chai tea needs time to steep to develop flavour.
Most big chains want a product that is fast to make. That’s totally understandable: they are dealing with large volumes of clients. When you have a queue of ten people waiting, you want the drink to take 30 seconds to make, not three minutes. Some back-of-the-envelope math:
10 people waiting for 30 seconds each = a 5-minute wait for the last person standing in line.
10 people waiting for 3 minutes each = half an hour wait for the last person standing in line.
No one is going to wait half an hour for a coffee or chai latte, no matter how good it is.
So, soluble products are fast, but usually cheap, low quality, and full of artificial flavours and colours. Loose leaf tea products are more natural, can be high or low quality, but they aren’t instant.
We thought: there has to be a middle ground.
The trick, we found, was to stop worrying about solubility. We realised that the important thing was how quickly the product imparted flavour to the milk. It was a bit of a revelation at the time: Instant does not have to equal soluble! Once we realised this, we were on track.
We made a product full of delicious natural spices, panela for a little sweetness, and milk or coconut milk powder for creaminess. To prepare it you just add our powder to milk and steam: exactly the same as you would use a traditional chai powder. When it is time to pour, you just pass it through a filter to catch the spices. This adds no time to the preparation, gives a great flavour, and most importantly: means we can use all-natural ingredients, and you can drink an all-natural chai.