The recipe for Bhakti Chai was created almost entirely out of necessity. Company founder and CEO Brook Eddy had returned home to Boulder after a months-long spiritual trip to India (where the tea is the caffeinated drink of choice), and she couldn’t find anyone who knew how to make a proper, Indian-style chai.
She was looking specifically for masala chai, a blend common to northern India that features warming spices such as black pepper and ginger. “I’d go to some coffeeshops and they’d use a pump of syrup to make their chai,” says Eddy, who explains that the tea should be freshly brewed to bring out its robust flavors and potential health benefits (better digestion, increased libido, and possible antiaging properties).
She set out to make her own. In a pot on her stovetop, she experimented with black teas, fresh-pressed ginger, cardamom, clove, pepper, and other spices until she had what most closely resembled masala chai.
She bottled her first successful batch in Mason jars and gave them to friends as Christmas gifts in 2005. Before long, those friends were asking for refills, and the word began to spread to local restaurants and cafes. Eddy, who at the time had another full-time job, moved the brewing out of her home and into a rented commercial kitchen, where she’d fill orders after-hours and hand-deliver the tea concentrate in her signature glass jars each morning.
Today, you can find Bhakti Chai (still sold in glass jars, as well as plastic gallon jugs) in coffeeshops, restaurants, and natural grocers such as Sunflower Markets and Whole Foods Markets all over Colorado, and in parts of New Mexico, Utah, and five other states.
The tea is still brewed fresh—but now in a large, microbrewery-style facility in Longmont, where Eddy’s brewers hand-press 800 pounds of fresh, organic ginger every week. Bhakti’s line of products has grown to include decaf, unsweetened, and coffee blend versions of the tea, plus a spicy chai-chocolate-chip ice cream. Business, you could say, is good: According to the Boulder County Business Report, Bhakti was one of the fastest-growing small businesses in the Boulder area in 2010, with 474 percent revenue growth.
Chalk that up to the chai’s signature flavor, which the 36-year-old Eddy describes as “a ginger-spicy jolt with a cleansing cardamom hum,” and which one taster in India described as “second only to my mom’s recipe.”