I was enjoying a cupcake at a recent meeting and thought, "an iced chai would be perfect right now". That thought is thanks, in part, to the Chai Guy, a local merchant I was lucky enough to meet.
If you are unfamiliar, chai is a wonderful drink that combines black tea, milk, and spices. Like regular tea, chai may be drunk hot or cold. WIth the scorching temperatures we've been having here in Western New York, I've been drinking my chai iced...like the majority of my tea.
In Rochester, NY if you love chai you know the Chai Guy and undoubtably visit him at the Public Market to get your chai fix. The Chai Guy is also known as Pat Tharp and he was kind enough to talk to me about chai and how he became the Chai Guy.
Pat stumbled upon chai as he was preparing for a missionary trip to India. Chai was served during the planning meetings leading up to the trip and he found that he really liked the beverage. He began experimenting at home, checking brewing times and ingredient ratios in the search for teh perfect cup of chai. Whenever there was a party or a pass the dish event, Pat would bring his homemade chai. One day a friend referred to him as "the Chai Guy" and the name stuck!
About three years ago Pat found "the sweet spot" and has not changed his formula. It was at that point that he decided to share his brew with the public. The Chai Guy's chai is similar to that of a craft beer. It's homemade and slow brewed, taking 24 hours to make. "There are no powders, no syrups, no concentrates, no fakery. Just a quality drink with a lot of love."
The Chai Guy offers 12 different types of chai, including vegan options, and allows you to experiment as well. I've enjoyed the Classic, but may venture into ginger my next time, and yes, he will be using pieces of fresh ginger. Or I may create my own blend combining ginger and cinnamon perhaps. Whatever flavor you choose, the chai base remains the same. Changes occur with a change of milk (including non dairy options) and the addition of fresh ingredients, even espresso!
But to Pat Tharp, it's more than just the flavor. It's the experience that comes with it. It's what the tea gives you the opportunity to do. "It's good to stop, pause, and reflect on the day." It's also a chance to meet and talk with others.
While chai is quite popular and easy to find in India and England, it's a bit trickier here in the United States. The Chai Guy is Rochester, New York's first chai crafter and he's working on bringing chai to you. You can find the Chai Guy at Rochester's Public Market as well as a farmer's market in Irondequoit. You can also purchase either his Tea Kit or his Quick Sips to make your own chai at home. The Tea Kit contains the tea and spices which you steep and then add milk and other flavors. The Quick Sips are already brewed tea and spices, you just add the milk! These kits can also be purchased at Lori's Whole Foods and the Pittsford Dairy Farm. In order to go whereever there' a need for chai, Pat is also working on a mobile chai cart!
If you're ever in the Rochester, NY area I hope you're able to visit the Chai Guy and enjoy a cup of chai. You can also check out his Website, Facebook Page, Instagram, or Snapchat Account, "the chai guys".
As Pat would say, have a Chaitastic Day and thanks for reading!