The idea for Vastu Chai was sparked in 2004 from a personal passion for high quality tea and a desire to offer an ethically sourced & intentionally grown tea line to enthusiasts. The recipe was inherited from my mum, passed on to her from my grandmother and great-grandmother, who all originate from the state of Gujarat in Western India. Using this traditional knowledge, our Traditional Masala was born. It is a blend of loose leaf black tea and eight different spices which has, over time, evolved into a rich, perfectly balanced chai masala. Masala means ‘mixture’ and generally refers to spice mixtures (i.e. Garam masala used in cooking).
The concept of Vastu Chai continued to grow after attending the World Tea Expo in 2006 with my parents. Because of their connection to the culture and fluency in a few languages, we made contacts with tea farmers and spice growers from India. Later that year, Vastu Chai became one of the first Fair Trade tea companies in Canada.
After introducing Traditional Masala, we developed Rooibos Masala in 2007. In the autumn of 2009, we added two more blends —Green Tea Masala and Pure White Tea (see Our Chai page for more information on these blends). At this time, we worked with an alliance of organic small farmers from India and South Africa. Vastu Chai was blended and packaged by Fair Packers, a company two-thirds owned by the Rooibos small farmers in South Africa. Since Rooibos is grown and harvested from January to April, the farmers require additional work to sustain their small farming lifestyle. Note that 90% of the Fair Packers workers are women who work on the farms and many are single mothers.
It is still amazing for us to think that each tea-leaf is plucked by hand, and then to wonder how to sustain this type of agriculture. This led Vastu Chai to support small-scale farming as noted above. We are currently working with Small Organic Farmers Association (SOFA) in Sri Lanka to produce our forthcoming blends. SOFA is a dedicated farmer co-operative that grows teas and spices using certified organic farming principles all under the fair trade concept. This relationship is facilitated through BioFoods (biofoodslk.com), a processor and exporter of organic teas, herbs and spices. BioFoods has also been integral in creating the sustainable SOFA model, which is an independent farmer organization, with a Board of Management comprised of the organic farmer societies with a total of 1536 individual organic farmers! With this integrity in mind, Vastu Chai has chosen to work with BioFoods to blend and package our unique family recipes.
Vastu is the connection between our being and nature. Vastu is to be vibrant and blissfully satisfied.
To attain our full potential, it is essential to find balance and maintain equilibrium in our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual states. To seek this balance, is to focus on the Vastu principles of happiness, health, and well-being.
We feel that these Vastu principles guide us into our conscious mind, a place of awareness and clarity, where we are grounded in our surroundings and are one with the universe. We can be connected in this way, by taking time out to be ourselves, to be present, to be in the moment.
A Chai moment.
Vastu Chai reflects this balance by offering social, environmental, and intentional options, sourcing from Fair Trade certified (fairtrade.ca) and Organic certified (pro-cert.org) small-scale farmers in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa. All of our teas and spices are plucked, dried, sorted, and blended with the utmost care and intention by farmers. This is evident both when hearing them speak about the process and also in the flavour of Vastu Chai.
I am very passionate about encouraging and maintaining a connection to nature in our everyday lives. This passion is shared with my community by stimulating the development of an alternative food system, from soil building in the backyard, to importing fair trade tea and spice, from building relationships with local farmers to building community gardens. I am involved with our local Community Gardening Society (canmorecommunitygarden.org) and a CSA (community supported agriculture)-modeled small business which sustains smaller scale organic farmers locally (farmbox.ca). It has been exciting to be a part of the evolution of Chai including creating different brewing methods, inspiring discussion and thought, and meeting great people along the way. It has been fun! I hope that Vastu Chai continues to be part your own personal Chai evolution.
Erin’s connection to nature and the living thriving world is deeply rooted. Studies in ecology, biology and yoga solidified that connection and she is passionate about organics, sustainability, green and mindful living. Erin has also been involved with community gardening projects and community building through yoga. Her love affair with chai began on a trip to India where it became her daily ritual, that continues to this day. She began her journey with Vastu Chai in Canmore but has recently moved to the Vancouver area to take our message and chai to the vibrant west coast. Erin’s specialty is in networking, communications and social media marketing. She breathes special life into our brand and has a ton of fun doing it!
We feel deeply compelled to support various community initiatives and causes, either by monetary or product donation. The act of drinking and sharing tea is naturally social, so in keeping with this spirit we try to share as much as we can. Our interests are diverse and you’ll see this reflected in the list of recipients below.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” -Lao Tzu
CJSW Calgary’s Independent Community Radio Station: Annual funding drive.
British Columbia Council for International Cooperation Working Group to End Global Poverty: Food for All Symposium