Waging a ‘Chai-volution’ with The Boston Chai Party

It started first as a frustration and resulted in a protest — although a quiet one. Rushil Desai and Vishal Thapar launched The Boston Chai Party because they couldn’t find an authentic cup of chai at cafes they frequented. Both were raised in India, and both are cancer researchers who met at work at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We bonded over the lack of chai and that you couldn’t find a decent cup unless you made it at home,” said Desai. They craved the genuine type with waves of flavors — brewed with strong black tea made smooth with milk and aromatic from spices, like cardamom, fennel, and black pepper. It’s not the sugary, weak chai lattes that emphasize cinnamon and nutmeg, says Desai. “Starbucks created a flavor profile and people think that’s chai, but it’s not,” he says. Their intention, they say, is to start a “Chai-volution” and educate people about real Indian chai. Now they work out of Commonwealth Kitchen, the Dorchester food incubator, where they grind spices — cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, fennel, black pepper, dried ginger — to create the masala (spice blend). “It’s a side gig,” said Thapar. To help prepare a true cup at home, the company offers tins of ingredients — their spice blend (40 grams or 1.41 ounces, $7; 84 grams or 2.96 ounces, $12) and separate tins of high quality black tea leaves from the fair-trade Amgoori Garden in Assam, India (40 grams or 1.41 ounces, $5; 150 grams or 5.3 ounces, $16). Also offered are pouches of slightly sweetened and unsweetened chai concentrate, the spices and prepared tea already blended ($15 for 1.75 ounces). Just add your choice of milk. “It’s a mystical drink,” say Desai. Available at Cambridge Naturals, 23 White St., Cambridge, 617-492-4452; Good Health Natural Foods, 1630 Hancock St., Quincy, 617-773-4925. Available by the cup at Barismo cafe locations and Davis Square Donuts & Bagels, 377 Summer St., Somerville, 617-764-0631