Taking a Peek at a Pre-mixed Chai

It’s a great age to be a tea drinker, at least as far as this tea drinker is concerned. There are so many more choices than Lipton tea bags, which are what I grew up knowing. We are also getting to communicate, as tea drinkers, with vendors who have a direct connection with tea growers. Facebook and Twitter both make this possible. The result is better tea in our cups.

Then, there’s Tipu’s Chai.

Once upon a time there was a boy named Bipin Patel in India whose grandmother made a chai that was so good, everyone around liked it. Later, this boy grew up, moved with his mother and grandmother to Africa, then to London, and finally to Montana, bringing this recipe with them. In 1997, he started a café which served authentic vegetarian Indian dishes in Missoula, Montana. It was called “Tipu’s Tiger” and was named after a tiger-shaped musical organ that eats a British soldier figure when wound up and that was a gift to Tipu Sultan “the last of the Indian Kings to resist the British domination of India.” In 2007, after 10 years, he and his team sold the café (which shortly thereafter closed) so they could focus on promoting the chai.

The Tipu’s Chai Team:  Bipin Patel,   Varada (his partner),   Mark (a friend),   Naga Nataka

Other than a slight blip in June of 2008 when the concentrate was recalled due to a processing error (no illnesses were ever reported), the chai has enjoyed great success and is now available not only online through their Website but also at about 65 cafés, grocers, and coffee houses, mostly in Montana and Oregon.

My only issue is that their Website is an example of a design done by people who have a lot of technical skill and virtually no user experience knowledge. To find the list of locations where this chai is sold, you have to click on Buy Chai and then on the Click Here. There is no way to slide the image over so you can get to the list yourself. In fact, I kept sliding by the list and had to try several things to figure which one got me where I wanted to be. Also, the list of locations is not linked so that you can go directly to a company’s Website (if they have one). I’d also like to see more information about their products on the site and more blog entries, but I understand. They’re busy making chai!

Compared to some tea vendors, Tipu’s Chai’s product list is limited. Not a problem as far as I’m concerned. They focus on what they know best. Of course, that ginger brew I read about (that they used to serve in the café) might be a good addition to the line-up. Just a thought.

Hubby and I got to try a couple of samples: the Instant Black Chai and the Original Brew Black Chai. We’re both self-proclaimed “chai snobs,” that is, we have had chais that we definitely consider authentic and plenty that were chai in name only. We weren’t about to be fooled by this one — and we weren’t. It truly compares with other chais we have had that were prepared by natives of India. Read the reviews on Little Yellow Teapot Tea Reviews for a complete take on our experience.

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