Amy Rothstein cofounded Dona Chai with her brother Peter before she even turned 26. They seem to have picked up entrepreneurism from their father, who would always tell them about the weekly bike delivery service he started to bring bagels to his neighbors when he was a kid.
The idea came to Amy while completing a master’s in Food Studies at New York University – if NYC had a burgeoning local food movement, even a locally roasted coffee movement, why was there no locally sourced chai?
Armed with a stint on an urban farm and a farm-to-table culinary program under her belt, Amy started with a traditional Indian chai mix – black tea, spices, milk and sugar. Back home in Detroit, Michigan, she shared test batches with her pals and got inspired by a fellow chef friend who made a version with strong cardamom flavor. She also opted for cold-pressed ginger juice, rather than the ubiquitous ground ginger, which can quickly lose its signature bite.
Dona Chai begins with Brooklyn-sourced whole spices ground fresh for each new batch to maximize flavor. The spices are then steeped in small batches of slow-brewed organic black tea. After steeping, all ingredients are composted locally.