Brewed Strong: Chai Kitchen is Firmly Planted in Southern Oregon
Aromatic, surprisingly savory, and naturally therapeutic, chai tea is nourishment for the soul and can add to your repertoire of comforting go-tos this winter. Chai Kitchen originator and herbalist Gina Lindow has your warmth and coziness in mind as she hand-blends every batch of her ambrosial teas.
“It was kind of the culmination of my different sets of knowledge and skills,” explains Lindow about the birth of her tea company. With a background steeped in organic farming and natural foods and supplements, creating and serving chai blends felt like the perfect niche.
In 2017, she acquired a small kitchen space in Talent to begin her experimenting. Not long afterward, she was joined by her partner, Russell Rodriguez, who admits that before tasting Lindow’s tea, he was pretty much a commercial-chai kind of guy.
“When she started, I really liked the idea,” shares Rodriguez. “I became one of the testers and, after tasting the chai she was creating, I was in a hundred percent.”
Six blends later, Lindow has given us an exciting assortment. Her black tea blends are dynamic and pure aromal pleasure, with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and star anise taking center stage.
Her herbal tea blends, Rooibos Spice and Ruby Spice, tease the senses with an exotic yet soothing fusion of seasonings, like cardamom and ginger, and floral notes of hibiscus and rose, and are superb served hot or chilled.
A popular tea, Golden Spice blend surprises those new to chai, with a mix including turmeric, ginger, star anise and cinnamon. Though its spirited nature isn’t for everyone, Lindow says those who have that kind of an herbal palate really enjoy it.
“It’s a big favorite at markets,” she adds. “Beautifully deep, dark yellow and aromatic.”
A holiday favorite, the Cocoa Spice blend takes hot chocolate to a whole other realm with its robust seasoning, including star anise, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon. Great for all ages, Lindow calls it “warm and satisfying,” cooked on the stovetop with a cream and sweetener of choice.
“Lavender Spice is one of our new teas we hope to add to our line,” she shares. The culinary-grade lavender is locally-sourced and blended with gunpowder green tea, which is a bit stronger and higher caffeinated due to its processing. The mixture alone is quite appealing, with its warming aroma and splash of purple amongst deep green pellets.
Anyone unfamiliar with chai must know this: it is definitely a cut above your average tea, infused with spices and, depending on black or green tea being in the mix, can be a caffeine-free, herbal relishment, a cozy essential on cold, foggy days or a unique (and healthy) energizer, as chai teas are inherently remedial.
“Black and green tea are strong antioxidants and a lot of the spices are beneficial,” Lindow explains. “For instance, star anise has properties that have been found to be antiviral, cardamom is well-known for settling the stomach and others are anti-inflammatory.”
The couple are active at community events and markets, selling their tea alongside hot Belgian waffles in specialty flavors, like chocolate brownie with raspberry syrup and chocolate frosting, or pumpkin gingerbread with butterscotch syrup and whipped cream.
“We’re really focused on coming back after Covid; getting more people introduced to our product and maybe, eventually, finding a bigger space, even a small storefront,” says Lindow.
Ideas for the near-future include having a place where people can buy bulk spices and getting their products onto store shelves.
“Right now though, we’re pretty satisfied to have a little spot of our own where we can process our tea,” adds Lindow.
You can catch Chai Kitchen at local events in the Rogue Valley this Fall and Winter. Check out their announcements on Instagram and Facebook.