This week, Portland based Pearl Soda Company announced its Bespoke Chai program, which offers custom artisanal chai concentrates made in collaboration with their customers. Designed specifically with coffee roasters in mind, it provides a way for businesses to offer a unique chai that is as carefully crafted as the coffee beans they roast. Customization serves to strengthen a brand’s unique identity by matching a chai experience to a company’s overall flavor and ethos.
The team meets with individual roasters or cafés to develop a custom recipe. Several variables go into a successful recipe including the ratio of masala and other spices, the roast level of the spices, and choosing a tea base or two that best compliments the custom spice blend. Including brand-specific chai in their catalogue provides roasters a novel way to increase their brand’s presence with a product that already has established demand. It also takes care of an extra errand for their wholesale customers – rather than ordering coffee and chai separately, they can get both in the same place.
“Talking with baristas, we keep hearing that making consistently delicious chai is a time-sucking struggle. And as for pre-made chai, there aren’t any options on the market that meet artisinal standards due to high sugar levels, artificial flavors or preservatives, and poor quality or old ingredients,” says co-founder Liz Borders, “We want to help provide an option that they can take ownership over and be proud of.”
All of Pearl Soda Company’s custom chais are all-natural and made from roasted whole spices and loose-leaf teas. With a 1:7 ratio it’s much more concentrated than most other concentrates, and sweetened with a mere 6 grams of cane sugar per serving. The result is noticeably spicier than the competition. It also only takes about 30 seconds to make a latte and can also be used for iced and blended drinks, cocktails, and on a nitro tap. It’s shelf stable until opened and then lasts for 6 weeks in the refrigerator. All packaging is recyclable, and all spent leaves are composted.
Pearl Soda sees itself as a solution to problem that’s common for wholesalers and shop owners around town. “We love tea, but the collaborative spirit of working with others is really our favorite part. By working together, we can mutually strengthen our businesses and build each other up.”
So far, the response has been encouraging. Pearl Soda bottled Ristretto Roasters’ custom chai last month and it’s spicier than the concentrate they were making in house. The baristas have more time and less clean up, and customers are enjoying a richer product. An official launch party is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7th from 4 to 7 pm at the Couch Street location in Portland. Baked goods and specialty chai drinks made from the custom concentrate will be available for sampling. The event is open to the public.
Pearl Soda Company is the sister company to The Jasmine Pearl Tea Co. (est. 2004). They specialize in a variety of bottled concentrates made from loose leaf tea and herbs, previously for sparkling tea and now for chai as well. They import, blend, small-batch brew, and hand bottle everything that they make. Their syrups are always all-natural and low in sugar. They have a combined experience and expertise of over 35 years in the industry.