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Morning Rituals With Dona Chai

December 29, 2016
Opened bottle of Dona Chai tea concentrate with cup of tea

At Oatbox, we believe in eating healthy foods, such as nutritious grains in the morning to kick-start your day. And with all the festive dinners, we know the feeling after the Holidays. This is why we sat down with Amy Rothstein from Dona Chai to learn a bit more about the health benefits of chai and how we can incorporate it in our daily routine.


Two and half years ago, Amy moved to New York. A graduate in food studies, she was uncertain of her path, but she knew she adored the thoughtfulness behind the coffee shop culture. She kept noticing how the coffee was locally roasted, the milk was high quality and the pastries were displayed from regional sources. Amy saw a gap in the chai industry in New York as she noticed everyone was using it but no one was promoting it because everyone was using the imported super sweet syrup. From there, she started making her own chai and started her business.

Warm cup of tea with opened bottle of Dona Chai tea concentrate

What is Dona Chai?
Dona Chai is a liquid chai concentrate made entirely from locally-sourced ingredients. It is a premium, high-quality chai that is meant to be soothing and flavourful all at once.


What is chai made from?
Dona Chai’s recipe is made from fresh ginger, cinnamon, cardamom cloves and black pepper with an organic black tea base. To create the concentrate, the spices are slow steeped. The chai is sweetened with cane sugar and molasses, but very lightly to bring out all the spices. There’s no fundamental recipe for chai, although black tea is the base of most formulas. Chai is totally up to the brewer!


What is the difference between powdered chai and chai concentrate?
Liquid chai concentrate is the best and healthiest option for the beverage. The process of making something into a powder seems more artificial than the natural cooking process of creating liquid chai. Steeping the chai with its spices and then sweetening it is the most natural way of doing it. Dona Chai makes the most authentic chai.


How do you prepare the chai?
At home, if you were to use chai concentrate, mix the liquid equal parts with milk. You can also heat it up in the microwave or on the stovetop, or you can even ice it. It’s pretty full proof!

Bottles of Dona Chai tea concentrate
Dona Chai tea concentrate being poured into a cup

What are the different ways you can use the chai concentrate?
We have incorporated our chai in several recipes, which you can find on our website. My personal favourite is the French Toast, you can also add the chai to waffles or any breakfast item, it adds amazing flavour. You just need to replace the liquid with chai in the batter; it’s very easy and works well.

Are there any benefits in drinking chai in the morning? 
Chai has many health benefits since it’s made from whole and organic spices. The spices that are used have antioxidant properties; ginger for example is great for digestion, cinnamon is known to help blood sugar, or even cardamom is used in alternative medicine to remove all the toxins from our bodies. Every spice used has a specific health benefit associate to it. Also, since the chai’s base is tea, the beverage is meant to sooth the mind and body. It’s also a perfect morning drink since it has caffeine from the black tea.


How can we better incorporate chai in our health regimen?
Chai is a good replacement for coffee because most of us drink it for its caffeine content, but we want something that is really bold in flavour whereas a cup of tea does not fulfil that. A cup of tea is very subtle, therefore chai would be a good and healthier replacement, since the caffeine is less aggressive and it has more subtle properties because of the tea and all the spices. 

Dona Chai cup of tea
Oatbox granola and Dona Chai tea concentrate

In October, we had a chai almond mix, a very original mix. What are your favourite chai pairings?
Right now, I’m super into mixing our chai with apple cider. It’s a delicious quick malt cider. Also, for a nice holiday drink, we can add a small amount of bourbon to the mixture.


First thing you do in the morning?
Every morning I have to have coffee.  Probably about half the time, I’ll make it at home in my French press or in the summer I’ll make cold brew, and then half the time I’ll stop at a coffee shop on my way to work.

Amy Rothstein of Dona Chai

Where do you find your inspiration?
I get influenced a lot from coffee shops, the cultural aspect for sure, and the people, customers and owners who value good quality products and a certain aesthetic and design. I think I find most of my inspiration from people who do similar things, like artists or producers who strive to create something tasteful and well-designed.

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