Monk’s Chai really started 12 years ago when Co-Founder Marwin Shaw opened the doors at his cafe, Monk Bodhi Dharma in Balaclava. The cafe philosophy has always been to specialise on a small number of things with absolute focus: A small and delicious plant-based menu, an aspirational Coffee list, and fine teas from around the world. Monk’s Chai wasn’t a brand at the time but a specialty masala chai offered at the cafe.
The early Monk Bodhi Dharma team consisted of quality graders working with specialty spices, tea and coffee. They wanted to create a consistently excellent brewed masala chai every time, but the concept of brewing a great chai usually meant grinding a number of spices fresh and mixing them with tea then double boiling and aerating the chai to produce a comforting spicy mix. That approach is delicious, but there is a problem. In a cafe service environment it took too much time and space.
Further, consistency became an issue with that method. The team was interested in creating a whole spice Masala Chai blend that was aromatic, and spicy with the nuance of quality tea with consistency of flavour. The team was constantly in the pursuit of excellence for a perfect chai honouring freshness, taste and provenance. That drove the decision to create the current blend. A masala chai that had to align with the ethos of our coffee and plant-based food.
The chai recipe needed to be consistently excellent with every brew. The team began binding natural sweeteners through fresh spices and fine teas that were ready to be brewed on demand using minimal commercial and home equipment.
12 years ago the concept of a ‘wet’ masala chai wasn’t really a thing. There really weren't any other options available on the market other than dried teas with spices in kraft paper bags or micronised spices mixed with sugar in aluminum tins. The ‘wet’ or ‘sticky’ chai approach to preparing masala chai was a contemporary take on delivering a brew at the time.
The original recipe came from months of blending, tasting and refining a natural recipe and process. The same recipe and blending method has been in use for the last 12 years at Monk Bodhi Dharma and Two years ago, when the team decided to release the brand for wholesale and retail, they made the decision to only source organic ingredients of specialty grade. The criteria was simple; each element needs to taste exceptional on its own. Monk’s Chai customers can appreciate the level of curation that’s gone into the blend. The recipe and method of blending has come from over 12 years of refinement in a high volume cafe environment and over 2 million brews. Each taste is guaranteed to be a blend that highlights the finest tastes of the season.
Co-Founder Monk's Chai, Executive Chef of Monk Bodhi Dharma, Bayano the Rebel and Admiral Cheng Ho. Over 30 years of experience as a commercial Chef. Avid musician with training as a music producer.
Career foodie and Chief Chai Maker.
Co-Founder Monk's Chai, Former Head of Sales and Marketing at Vue Group, Former VP of Sales and Marketing Everproof, Former National Business Development Manager, Medibank
BBS, MBA, GradDip Sustainability
Career Sales and Marketing professional spends a year across south asia, surfing, doing yoga and learning about Chai. Trades in corporate life to hustle Spicy Specialty Chai. As a mixed culture child, John was turned on to the taste of chai by his Chinese Grandmother and her South Asian business partner on the streets of Hong Kong. They would have meetings near the Chung King mansions enjoying freshly brewed masala chai, gulab Jamun and Malay Guo while relaxing and telling jokes.
Founder of Monk Bodhi Dharma, Admiral Cheng Ho, Mecomm, Disciple Roasters Co-founder of Bayano the Rebel and Monk's Chai.
Serial Entrepreneur with a background in law and economics opens iconic Melbourne Vegan cafes and coffee roasting company. He is the Monk's Chai OG and has an exceptional palate for all sorts of specialty flavours.