Ralph Tan started making chai from scratch a year and a half ago as a sort of labor of love for his father.

 “My sister and I used to run a coffee shop, but apparently our dad has a very low tolerance for caffeine,” he explains. “It was kind of sad for us that he could not really fully enjoy the shop because he doesn’t drink coffee, so we had to think of alternative [for him].”

Jacob’s Well chai comes in three variants: sweetened (or original), unsweetened, and spiced vanilla.

Tan tells us that the chai originally served as a something of a secret menu item exclusively for their father. But a year into making their homemade chai, and several inquiries and customers wanting in on the secret menu item (moreso than the coffee, Tan declares), they decided to start Jacob’s Well—a retail brand where they market their homemade, preservative-free chai concentrate that is proudly made with whole spices ground by hand.

The intention was never to retail it. It was more for dad’s consumption. People [started] asking ‘What is he drinking?’, and we’d say ‘It’s chai.’ People tasted it and they liked it, and one thing led to another. It was actually my best friend who urged me to make a brand out of it.”

While some may find powdered chai or even chai in teabags more convenient and have more intense flavor, there’s a fullness to flavor of the whole spices that we have only encountered in Jacob Well’s liquid form. And with Jacob’s Well, it is remarkably easy to make your own chai: just mix one part concentrate to eight parts water, milk, or milk substitute (this can of course be adjusted to taste).

The bottles, when stored properly in a cool, dark and dry place, should keep the chai for 6-8 months, or a full year if stored in the fridge. Once opened, store in the fridge and it should keep for up to 6 months.

The original blend is more “cardamom and black tea-centric,” while the unsweetened version is the same without any added sugar so that you can customize it with your preferred type of sweetener or level of sweetness. The spiced vanilla “has a hint of fresh vanilla pods that we ferment on our own . . . and has a strong aftertaste of peppercorn.”

For chai lovers who can’t get enough of that full-bodied flavor, Jacob’s Well recently released their 1L concentrate bottles to fuel your addiction.


Homemade, preservative-free chai made from whole spices that are ground by hand.

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