Kickstarter Spotlight: Chai Me: Authentic, Traditional, Family Recipe Chocolatey Chai



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Aisha Krishnan is an immigrant entrepreneur from Hyderabad, India that started Chai-Me in 2011 because her friends wouldn’t stop begging for a cup of her mom’s family recipe chai. She loves Bollywood music, chai, mojitos, and silly dances.
 
Tim Slyvester is the founder of IntegratedRoadways.com, who has been giving advice and guidance to Aisha since the beginning. He never liked tea until he had Aisha’s delicious chai, and now can’t start the day without a cup!
 
We asked them a couple questions about their Kickstarter project…
 

1. Tell us about your Kickstarter project, Chai Me.

 
Chai-Me.com is an e-commerce store that sells Chocolatey Chai mix prepared using ingredients imported from India. Chai-Me Chocolatey Chai is a 100% authentic and traditional Hyderabad-style Masala Chai mix, whose recipe has been handed down through generations within my family. We are currently raising funds through Kickstarter to improve our packaging so that our chai can be sold in grocery stores and coffee shops. We are so proud and honored to be sharing a truly authentic chai, blended and prepared in the traditional way, with such an eager American audience, and we love that we get the chance to introduce so many people to my family’s traditional drink.
 

2. What is Chai Tea and where is it from?

 

Chai Tea Kit

Chai Tea Kit

“Chai” means tea in numerous languages including Hindi and Urdu. While “chai” just means tea, it usually refers to black tea from Assam boiled with water, sweetener, masala (which means spices), and milk. Black tea was brought to Assam, India from China in the early 1800s, and quickly became an Indian tradition. In India, we use water buffalo milk, but that’s not available in the United States, and until we started Chai-Me.com, neither was real Hyderabad chai.
 
After I came to the US, I tried chai in some coffee shops but it was a poor imitation of the chai I would get back home. So many people love chai, but they aren’t even getting the good stuff. My family’s chai blend is Hyderabad style, which has a rich, chocolatey flavor due to the tea and spices used. When you taste it, you won’t believe what you’ve been missing, and you’ll be surprised to find that for such a rich, chocolatey flavor, there’s not actually chocolate in it!
 

3. How do people drink Chai Tea in India?

 
People in India drink hot, fresh made chai in small quantities, several times a day. Most people finish their meals with a cup of chai as it is said to help with digestion. It is also a drink popularly served during social gatherings. In the mornings, most Indian families have chai the same way Americans have coffee. The best way to enjoy a pleasant evening is to pair a delicious cup of Chai-Me’s Chocolatey Chai with a spicy Indian snack, such as a pakora or two.
 

 

4. What inspired you to launch this Kickstarter campaign?

 
We started Chai-Me.com several years ago when I kept running out of my mom’s chai blend that she would send me from India. My friends would come over asking for cups of chai, and I wouldn’t have any left for myself. Tim found some importers to provide the ingredients and convinced me to start selling it online. Since then we’ve been discovered by many awesome customers who keep asking us to sell my family’s chai in their local grocery stores and coffee shops, but it’s been tough to get the money together to do that. So we decided to do a Kickstarter to pay for the packaging upgrades we need to sell in stores. Five days later, we are 75% funded!
 

5. How much are you trying to raise, and what will you use the funds for if you succeed?

 

Aisha & Tim

Aisha & Tim

We are raising $3500 to cover the design and print work for producing retail-worthy packages. The traditional way of making Chai-Me’s Chocolatey Chai takes about 3-5 minutes, which isn’t much time at all, but here in the United States, many people either can’t spare 5 minutes, or don’t have a stove available when they want a cup of chai, and most of the stuff you can find at coffee shops is an American interpretation of chai, not actual authentic chai.
 
While we have deep reverence for tradition, we also want to be able to serve Americans who can’t prepare chai whenever they’d like a cup of it. When we hit 75% funded, we announced our first reach goal, to make Chai Syrup – the same delicious chai, made with the authentic ingredients in the traditional way, but with most of the work already done, so you can have hot or cold chai instantly, anywhere. To start making chai syrup, we need $4000, bringing the total amount we are raising to $7,500.



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