The Kasa Chai Story
I never thought I’d launch a Chai business. Indeed, I tried to avoid even making good tea so my family wouldn’t ask me to make a cup for them.
And yet, here I am decades later in San Francisco, deeply immersed in all things Chai. Credit for our amazing Kasa Chai - truly the best cup I’ve ever had - goes to my husband Suresh, who is a true chai-wallah at heart. He’s a perfectionist who has spent literally most of his life experimenting to make the perfect cup (with recipes and charts plastered all over our kitchen walls as proof). Suresh and I launched Kasa Chai in 2008 in our original Kasa Indian Eatery restaurant, and it’s had a cult following in the Bay Area ever since.
Today, we’re proud to share Kasa Chai with tea drinkers across the United States and to open America’s eyes to what a real cup of Chai should taste like.
About Kasa Chai
Every bag is hand blended and packed in San Francisco. We start with loose-leaf black tea leaves grown in the beautiful tropical tea gardens of Assam. Our choice of tea is full-bodied, bold and flavorful, rich in tannins and antioxidants. We then add just the right proportion of whole ground spices and demerara sugar to enhance the malty flavour of the tea.
But the blend itself is not enough. There’s a magic, a power, an alchemy to a great cup of Chai. Like life generally, taking shortcuts doesn’t always yield the best results. Whilst we’ve done most of the heavy lifting for you, the last mile ritual of making yourself or your friend or your grandma a fresh cup will bring you deep satisfaction.
It’s So Much More Than A Cup of Tea
Growing up in London, Chai was deeply intermingled with family, community and ritual. I can recall a trillion times watching my grandma come home on a cold winter day, grumbling in Punjabi - ‘dhake kha kha ke’ - which roughly translates to ‘I’ve been shoved around over and over again’. She was referring to London buses and the brutal, cold winds and rains she had commuted through. She would take her warmies off, sit down on the sofa and plead with me - ‘ek cup cha banaade menoo’ - ‘Make me a cup of Chai’. And it was one of the greatest services I could do for her.
The irony is that my Chai wasn’t too tasty, and my grandma was so very particular as most Indians are about their Chai, that she would invariably get back up after one of my cups of mediocrity and make herself her perfect cup. It’s not as easy as it looks - making Chai is a real art.
But I was young then and didn’t personally drink Chai, so I had little incentive to perfect it. In fact, I had negative incentives. I’m an excellent chef, but I knew that if word got out that I made a great cup, I would be endlessly roped into making pots of Chai for the whole family as well as every guest that enters the house.
Suresh had a totally different experience. As a kid growing up in the Bay Area, every morning his mum or grandma would give him a light cup of Chai so he was mentally ready to study hard at school. Today, he’s the one who makes Chai for all our family gatherings and I know it’s an honor for him to make a perfect cup for his parents, family and guests. It’s no wonder when the two of us met, my whole family instantly connected and loved him. It was pretty easy, as he won my entire clan over with his delicious Chai - and a little rum cocktail in the evening for my grandma :)
That’s the other power of Chai. It has the ability to forge connections and community. Anytime a guest visits, it’s an unspoken rule in Indian households that they be offered Chai. And then the real chit chat and connections begin.
For our staff at our Kasa Indian restaurants, Kasa Chai has led to an entire scene of regulars who we’ve become so close with because they come in daily for their cup. We’ve gotten to know each other over the years and chat just enough to track how our lives are coming along. In fact, the Chai kits were born out of need during the pandemic. Our regulars were not able to come out as much but needed their Kasa Chai, so we started bagging up the blend with a sheet of instructions. As demand grew for the Chai Kits, we’ve naturally expanded to offering Kasa Chai via e-commerce so anyone can order and enjoy this daily pleasure.