Just like coffee connoisseurs, those who are serious about their chai know when a true brew hits their lips. Like a sip of seduction, the soothing combination of black tea with Indian spices, lashings of honey and almond, cashew, soy or dairy milk – heated to perfection – is an ideal pick me up at any time of day. Here’s where to find Melbourne’s best.
Original Chai StallJust as its name suggestions, the Original Chai Stall serves authentic chai made strictly to a tried and true recipe that has been handed down from the two Indian-born brewers’ mothers. In opening the Original Chai Stall, Apoorv and Gauri sought to bring a taste of India’s colourful chai stalls to Melbourne and the result is an old school chai made from a sweet mix of black tea leaves, ginger, cardamom, milk that has customers coming back for more. Queen Victoria Market, 513 Queen Victoria Square, Melbourne, +61 421 985 998
Radhey Kitchen and Chai BarTapping into the tea-drinking tradition that forms such a strong part of many cultures globally, Radhey brings the tradition of chai drinking to Melbourne. Alongside a selection of vegetarian soul food, the cafe offers an extensive chai menu based on its signature blend, made with exotic spices using a time-honoured technique. 336 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, +61 3 9077 8858
St Andrews MarketHippies have been sipping tea at the St Andrews Market Chai Tent for decades. There’s no better way to sample a taste of their nirvana than by whiling away a Saturday morning on a cushion in the chai tent. It is a refreshing start to the weekend to simply watch the market goers stroll by and feel revived by the bush setting in the foothills of the Yarra Ranges. Kangaroo Ground-St Andrews Rd, St Andrews, +61 467 535 341
SerotoninThis Burnley cafe is dedicated to making its customers happy with a plant-based menu and an adjacent exercise centre. There is no sign of caffeine on the menu, instead, it serves ‘Organic Speciality Lattes’ including an Organic Soy Chai Latte made using a house-made blend of chai that is naturally sweetened with spices. 52 Madden Grover, Burnley, Richmond, +61 3 9428 8256
The Farm CafeLocated at the Abbotsford Children’s Farm, at Abbotsford Convent and just about on the banks of the Yarra River, the setting for this rustic cafe is second to none. A popular brunch spot (especially on a sunny weekend), it serves a selection of scrumptious food, along with a fresh leaf chai tea that is blended on-site, brewed with honey and served black or with milk or soy milk. 18 St Heliers St, Abbotsford, +61 3 9415 6581
Journal cafeBetween the Melbourne City Library and the al fresco paradise that is Degraves Street lies Journal Cafe. The go-to cafe for book worms and inner city workers alike, the team here make their own chai blend on site. 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, +61 3 9650 4399
De ClieuA favourite amongst Fitzroy locals, De Clieu is loved for its French-inspired menu and extensive coffee offering. Chai drinkers will also be rewarded here however, as the cafe brews its own blend in-house, served with soy, almond or dairy milk. Whether enjoyed by one of their large window sill-come-seats overlooking the street, alfresco, or on the go, De Clieu is a top spot for chai fiends to stop on any Fitzroy expedition . 187 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, +61 3 9417 6498
TonkaTucked away down Duckboard Place, off Flinders Lane in Melbourne’s centre, Tonka serves modern Indian cuisine and of course, a mean chai. Chef Adam D’Sylva follows his Indian grandmother’s recipe, using Darjeeling tea, allspice, cinnamon and cow’s milk. The perfect end to a tasty Indian-inspired meal. 20 Duckboard Place, Melbourne, +61 3 9650 3155
Little RogueA small cafe that is hard to find but worth the hunt, Little Rogue is located down Drewery Lane in central Melbourne. Its bright and airy interior is a welcome escape from the city streets and its barista, Calvin Ko, is famed for his skill. He has developed a chai brew that is served in-house and also at other nearby cafes such as Operator 25. 12 Drewery Lane, Melbourne
Industry BeansAlthough renowned for its very extensive coffee menu, Industry Beans also makes a delicious chai. Blended on-site using Australian Daintree Tea with spices including cinnamon, cloves and star anise and served with milk in a glass teapot and honey on the side – it is very instagram-worthy. Warehouse 3, Corner Rose Street and Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy, +61 3 9417 1034
Take home brewsChai WalliMelbourne brand Chai Walli was created by Indian born Uppma Virdi to share her family’s tradition of making chai. The signature Chai Walli blend is made from 11 spices proportioned using Ayurvedic principles. It is available with or without the addition of black tea to cater for the caffeine fiends and the caffeine-free. Chai Walli is stocked in various outlets around Melbourne, such as Gourmet Living in the suburb of Templestowe.
Prana ChaiPrana Chai is a Melbourne-born masala blend, and a favourite amongst cafes around the state and around the world. Fresh, whole spices sourced from countries like India, Sri Lanka and Guatemala, are hand blended with tea and honey and packaged up to send to cafes such as 1000 Pound Bend, Kinfolk and The Grain Store. Prana Chai also comes pre-packaged for home brewers to take with them and is available at a range of cafes and food stores around Melbourne.
Chai BoyAfter winning T2’s Chai Championships in 2014, Melbourne barista Chris Odrowaz decided to create his own artisan chai brand, and so Chai Boy was born. Just two years later, Chai Boy is the blend of choice for a number of cafes around town, including Richmond’s Touchwood, Fitzroy’s Addict Food and Coffee and Drug Store Espresso in South Yarra.
Calmer Sutra ChaiCalmer Sutra Chai is the result one woman’s search for a high quality chai. The original wet blend, fresh chai made from an all natural blend of sweet and warming spices, fresh ginger root, black tea and honey was discovered by Caitlin West in St Kilda back in 2002. Since then, she has taken the brand to a global stage and is now served in many of Melbourne’s most loved cafes including St Ali, Bowery to Williamsburg and Auction Rooms.
Royal ElixirPrahran’s blend your own tea shop, Royal Elixir has all the ingredients for those looking to create their own unique blend. Here, a range of 10 core teas (think, black, green etc.) are available to use as the base for the brew, while a selection of more refined flavours such as ginger, orange and cinnamon can be added to create a blend for any taste.