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Interview with Tipu’s Chai Founder Bipin Patel

Tipus 1

Bipin with his popular brew

We asked Bipin Patel, the founder of Tipu’s Chai, a few questions to learn more about his story and the process behind his amazing Chai tea blends.

Tipu’s Chai is a new product for us at Bi-Rite Market. Where does your chai recipe come from and what makes it so unique?

I was born and raised in a large Indian family in Uganda. I grew up drinking my grandmother’s masala chai. She brought it with her from her native Gujarat in northwestern India. Our chai recipe uses several ground spices like ginger and cardamom, which we specially blend with a strong organic black tea, such as Assam, to create a rich, spicy and robust flavor.

Can you tell us about your newest Chai products?

We offer a variety of quick-brew chai products for chai lovers on the go or for relaxing at home. All the products are made using all-natural ingredients with no preservatives. They are also certified kosher and most are organic.

  • All You Need is Water is our quick-brew chai tea latte made with black tea, organic spices, organic non-GMO soy milk powder, organic evaporated cane juice and ginger. This product is also vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, certified kosher and includes four grams of protein per serving. Chai fans simply add hot (or cold) water for a chai tea latte on the go.
  • The Simple Life uses soluble microground Black Chai tea without sweeteners or milk products. It is pure black tea, organic spices and ginger.

tipus2What prompted you to start your own chai company?

In many ways, it came naturally. I opened a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Missoula, Montana called Tipu’s Tiger (named after Tipu Sultan) in 1998, using mostly family recipes, one of which was my grandmother’s chai recipe. We used to make between 10-15 gallons of chai every day. Before long, local cafes and restaurants wanted to serve it to their patrons, so we developed various chai products to serve their needs. Tipu’s Chai was born! A few years ago, I sold the restaurant to focus on the chai business.

So, Indian chai vs. coffee?

Well, chai definitely has more healthy ingredients, and the tea offers more anti-oxidants. Chai is also easier on the digestive system and has lower levels of caffeine. All the spices we use in chai have a health value. For example, ginger helps with digestion; cinnamon increases circulation; and cardamom is known to benefit the lungs and heart.

What are some new trends you are seeing in this category?

I believe strongly that people will continue to want authentic and natural/organic products. As people travel the world more and taste authentic chai in India they will search for companies locally that are creating this same experience. Also, today’s consumers are looking for food and beverages made without artificial ingredients or preservatives, and we definitely do this!

Visit us for a taste of Tipu’s authentic Indian chai this Saturday, January 19th from 10am-1pm: meet Mark Lannen from Tipu’s Chai and learn more about this exciting new company from Montana!


Register Recipe: Aziza’s Meyer Lemon Cocktail

farnoush portraitI feel lucky to live in the Outer Richmond. I know that with the constant fog and cool weather that may sound strange for some, but I love it here. I’m five minutes away from the beach, around the corner from a great Margarita at Tommy’s, nearby stinky tofu at Formosa café…but the best benefit has got to be living two blocks away from Aziza!

We all know about the wonderful Michelin-starred Moroccan food they offer, but what I love most is their wine and cocktail program headed by the talented Farnoush Deylamian. Farnoush’s cocktails revolve around seasonal muddled fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Some ingredients may seem strange at first, like sugar snap pea or wild arugula, but they’re in balance and consistently delicious. I always start my evening there with her Meyer lemon cocktail, consisting of muddled Meyer lemon, brandy, and Cointreau, finished with Prosecco. It’s a great starter to a meal as an aperitif, or delicious with their couscous.  If you can’t make it over to 22nd and Geary to visit Aziza, here’s the recipe straight from Farnoush so you can replicate it at home!

single recipe card



Kiko’s Food News: January 11, 2013

Hallelujah! It’s time Americans realize that “sell by” dates have little to do with food safety, and that most products are safe to eat long after their expiration date (we need to rely more on our sense of smell): (NPR)

This article about a formerly reluctant food scrap composter, now converted, makes me appreciate San Francisco’s institutionalized compost pickup: (New York Times)

Butcher love: This fun movie short (produced by Ashton Kutcher, wha??) celebrates the “subculture” of local butchers–Aaron trained here with Morgan and Chili before opening his shop! (Thrashlab)

Big food companies have in recent years worked to cut salt from their top-selling products, but quietly so: (NPR)

Chicken farmers are feeding their flocks a specially milled diet laced with oregano oil and cinnamon to fight off bacterial diseases without resorting to antibiotics: (New York Times)

The FDA released two proposed rules designed to boost the safety of our food supply: one would require worker safety training, hand washing and monitoring the presence of animals in the field that could spread illness in fruits and vegetables; the other would require food processors to develop plans for preventing contamination: (NPR)

Slow Food USA has hired Richard McCarthy, co-founder of the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans, as its new leader; he’ll be tasked with navigating the question of whether Slow Food should exist to celebrate the pleasures of the table, or to advocate for food justice and biodiversity, (New York Times)

Kiko’s Food News: January 4, 2013

Easy to feel optimistic about the year in food when I read stories like these:

The San Francisco Unified School District announced plans to award a contract to Oakland-based Revolution Foods to provide nutritious, freshly prepared meals for city schoolchildren–it’s about time! (San Francisco Examiner)

In its fifth year the Young Farmers Conference at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture sold out its 260 spots in 36 hours, with 175 on the waiting list: a real show of momentum for sustainable farming! (New York Times)

And 2012 was a huge year for the Right to Know–check out these top 10 highlights of the non-GMO movement internationally: (Clean Fish)


As for the future of the movement, this article argues that foodies should rally behind the reform of plant patents to make food property rights less exclusive and less profitable for big company executives: (Slate)

A 15-year old girl’s discovery of Brominated vegetable oil (a common ingredient in many citrus drinks that may cause side effects like neurological and thyroid disorders) on the ingredient list of her Gatorade bottle has brought attention to the arcane world of additive regulation: (New York Times)

Government regulators moved a big step closer to allowing the first genetically engineered animal – a fast-growing salmon – to enter our food supply; the AquAdvantage salmon contains a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and a genetic switch from the ocean pout which causes the fish to reach market weight in about 18 months instead of three years: (New York Times)

Ever heard of a wine apartment, or a sourdough hotel? See how many you know on this fun list of food words that gained mass circulation in 2012: (Huffington Post)


Be the WHO on our PUBLIC Label

Our PUBLIC Label products are totally transparent. Each jar contains ingredients sourced from our favorite farmers, and is made with recipes created by our talented chefs in our partner kitchens. And all of this information is right on the label: we tell you WHO grew the key ingredient, WHERE it was grown and HOW it was turned into the final product you hold in your hand.

So now, we’re reaching out to YOU, our network of backyard and front yard farmers (did you know that the Mission micro-climate was once farmland?), to participate in our next new thing: a PUBLIC Label Meyer Lemon Marmalade. Bring us your Meyer Lemons and we’ll make them shine! And if you have another fruit tree we gotta try, let us know! We’ll take your lemons from now through Tuesday, January 15th.

Bring any amount of lemons you have (minimum of 15 lbs); if you bring more than 25 lbs and we use them, we’ll put your name on our label as the “WHO” behind the marmalade! We’ll pay you market rate for good lemons—by good, we mean ripe and juicy, without green shoulders—to ensure a flavorful end product.

Email me if you’re up for bringing us your Meyers—we’ll work out a time for you to drop them off. And of course, I’ll let anyone who brings me usable lemons know when the marmalade’s ready so you can come take a jar!


Community Corner: December

Updates on our work to build community through food and service last month

Shak moving thousands of lbs of produce from Tomatero Farm to Community Partners United

Highlights:  December was all about depth with key community partners:

  • In our first 18th St. Holiday Joy Drive, we collected 172 toys in four days! This means 172 families will had a happier holiday courtesy of Arriba Juntos, our guests and amazing staff. You all rock!
  • We helped Community Partners United feed 250 families living in housing projects in the Western Addition. With Matt, Simon, and Chili’s help, we provided 250 free range turkeys, 500 bunches of cooking greens, and over 1,100 lbs. of fresh produce – cranberries, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots and satsumas!
  • Through proceeds of our EAT GOOD FOOD book sales, we were able to provide Nextcourse and Community Alliance for Family Farmers (CAFF) with a donation of $8,750  each.
  • The Creamery spread some holiday sweetness by donating 900 sugar and gingerbread cookies to St. Anthony’s Foundation, A Women’s Place shelter and SF General Hospital.
  • We’re becoming a shareholder in People’s Community Market, making sound investment in the nutritional, social and economic needs of the West Oakland community.
  • We continued our yearly holiday giving by supporting the organizations our staff cares about including, LYRIC, Homeless Prenatal Program, Mission Preparatory School, Compass Family Services, Mission Community Market, SF SPCA and 18Reasons!

Get Involved with Organizations We Support:

  • Love digging in the dirt? Garden for the Environment needs volunteers for their demonstration urban garden every Wednesday and Saturday. Just show up ready to work – call (415) 731-5627 for more info.
  • Project Open Hand needs over 100 volunteers every single day to help provide 2,500 nutritious meals and 400 bags of groceries to the needy. Fight the post-holiday slump and sign up for an orientation: (415) 447-2313.

Know of great volunteer opportunities? Spending some quality time at a worthy local organization that could use Bi-Rite’s support? Let Shakirah know!

Who we donated to in December (43 organizations):

18 Reasons


Alameda County Food Bank

Animal Care and Control

Arriba Juntos


Chefs Collaborative

Children’s Book Project

Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Community Partners United (c/o SF Parks Alliance)

Community United Against Violence (CUAV)

Compass Family Services

Cornucopia Institute

Creativity Explored

Curry Senior Center

Garden for the Environment

Health at Home – SFDPH

Homeless Prenatal Program

KPFA Radio

Larkin Street Youth Services


Margaret Jenkins Dance Company

Mercy Housing CA

Mission Community Market (c/o SF Parks Alliance)

Mission Graduates

Mission Preparatory School

National Kidney Foundation

Next Course

Our Family Coalition

People’s Community Market

Project Open Hand

San Francisco Living Wage Coalition

San Francisco Rock Project

Sauvie Island Center

SF Parks Alliance – Urban Sprouts



Shukuru Foundation

Slow Food USA

Southeast Mission Geriatric Services

Streetside Stories

The Daphne Zepos Teaching Award\American Cheese Education Foundation

Three Squares/Cooking Matters




New Year’s Resolution: Waste Less Food!

I was at a British-themed party recently and came across the tome to the right, which included instructions for US personnel headed to Britain during World War II.

As you can see in the text I photographed below, the manual has some explicit advice for American Servicemen regarding waste. In short, “…when you destroy or waste food you have wasted the life of another sailor.”

I passed these juicy bits of history to my friend Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, and he shared it on his food waste-focused blog. Here’s what he had to say:

“The instructions are also enlightening on what food and fuel meant in wartime Britain. In contrast to the food-rich US, Britain relied upon imported food (and fuel). During World War II, when the German navy threatened all shipments, British sailors risked their lives to secure such supplies. In addition to the need to feed soldiers, this risk provided all the more reason not to waste food.

I’ve never seen stronger anti-waste words. And I’d never heard such a direct correlation between food waste and ‘the ultimate sacrifice.’ Hopefully the below passage reminds us how fortunate most of us are and inspires us to avoid waste in honor of those past sacrifices.”