UP-CLOSE: Hounslow sisters Jasmine and Alicia talk Punjabi heritage, business and Wild Chai

By Cesar Medina

14th Jan 2024 | Local Features

Alicia and Jasmine founded Wild Chai in 2022 offering an alternative to other sugary tea on the market (credit: Wild Chai).
Alicia and Jasmine founded Wild Chai in 2022 offering an alternative to other sugary tea on the market (credit: Wild Chai).

29 and 25-year-old Jasmine and Alicia were born and raised in Hounslow west London from grandparents who migrated to the area in the 60s, bringing their north Indian culture and heritage with them that would later be the crux of the sister's booming chai business. 

But how did two South Asian sisters from Hounslow go onto feature in famous magazines like Vogue and GQ and get recognised by local government for their entrepreneurial skills?

Masala chai is a blend of tea, spices, milk and sugar originating from India but has garnered popularity around the world, including London. 

Chai franchise, Chaiiwala, said it sold more than 20 million cups of karak chai in London since 2018. 

Jasmine and Alicia looked to change the status quo realising that these new chai brands taking London by storm were serving chai heavily saturated with sugar.

This was only exacerbating the problem for South Asians across the city who indulged in sugary chai but are more susceptible to diabetes than other ethnicities.

They realised something had to change. Jasmine and Alicia started Wild Chai focusing on their Ayurvedic knowledge passed down through generations to create authentic and healthy chai with no sugars. 

Wild Chai's Turmeric Shakti is a blend of turmeric, herbs and spices that can help with reducing inflammation (credit: Wild Chai).

"All of these experiences have shaped me to believe that anything is possible, and everything should be tried" - Jasmine

Wild Chai is an online masala chai business dedicated to crafting authentic homemade Ayurvedic blends, helping to promote healthier drinking. 

Ayurvedic teas are made with bespoke blends of herbs in harmony with ancient Indian tradition for a drink that's good for not only your health, but mind. 

Despite loving tea and consuming their grandparents Ayurvedic recipes all their lives, the sisters did not initially want to get into the tea selling business. 

Alicia explained: "From a young age I have battled with two dreams, one is that I have always loved singing and at one point in my teenage years I started to pursue the idea of having a music career. 

"The other was a burning desire to be an entrepreneur having grown up in a household and extended family that put their own dreams at the forefront and started successful businesses. I still sing now, but the entrepreneur in me won!" 

Like her younger sister, who was born on the exact same day but four years earlier, Jasmine had numerous dreams growing up. 

Jasmine said: "Thinking back my three main desires growing up would be: an actress, I loved acting, playing pranks and impersonating people, a chef which I've now fulfilled by graduating from Leiths School of Food and Wine and a photographer." 

Wild Chai won the Advance for Growth Award in 2023 from Hounslow Council, JCDecaux UK and the West London Chambers of Commerce (credit: Hounslow Council).

"Find the courage to start, stop caring about the opinions of others. Success is a journey claimed by those who dare to begin" - Alicia 

Even today the sisters are not full-time chai specialists as Jasmine works in the pharmaceutical industry and Alicia in tech, showing off their multiple areas of expertise which they credit their parents for. 

Jasmine and Alicia both said that growing up their parents always encouraged them to pursue individual passions, allowing them to experience and absorb knowledge from different areas throughout their lives. 

Alicia said: "Our parents never imposed strict academic paths on us, instead they fostered an environment of encouragement and support for our individual passions. 

"There was no pressure to conform to traditional career stereotypes prevalent in the Asian community, like becoming lawyers or doctors... 

"We complement each other's abilities, lifting one another up, thanks to the foundation of positive traits our parents ingrained in us." 

Wild Chai's Monsoon Hills is a blend of spices, black tea and aromas that can alleviate congestion (credit: Wild Chai).

Jasmine added: "My upbringing gave me the choice to study accounting and finance at university but also to pursue my passion for food at culinary school in my mid-twenties. 

"All of these experiences have shaped me to believe that anything is possible, and everything should be tried." 

Jasmine and Alicia back in November 2023 won the Advance for Growth Award from JCDeaux and the West London Chambers of Commerce giving Wild Chai a years worth of digital advertising, a free West London Chambers membership for a year and business mentoring from Hounslow Council. 

Reacting to the award, the sisters said: "Winning the Advance for Growth Award was a moment that we will never forget, especially sharing that moment as sisters." 

They continued: "Going forward, we believe this will exponentially catapult our company into having a super successful year whether that be in networking, awareness or further collaborations." 

Wild Chai's Ruby Fort is a herbal tea with natural ingredients and antioxidants that can help cool the body (credit: Wild Chai).

Reflecting on 2023, Wild Chai enjoyed tons of success, but the sisters did acknowledge that it wasn't without its obstacles. 

They said: "We are grateful for all the support Wild Chai has received. In 2023, it was quite easy to feel demotivated when we had a setback in our business but through the power of support, we learnt to stay positive and to not give up." 

They added: "We are so excited for 2024! We will be working with amazing brands, releasing new products and helping more people achieve better health." 

As their business continues to grow, Jasmine and Alicia both share a piece of advice for young women and aspiring entrepreneurs who may want to enter the realm of business but are unsure on where to start. 

Alicia said: "Find the courage to start, stop caring about the opinions of others. Success is a journey claimed by those who dare to begin." 

Jasmine added: "Try to embrace failure as a learning opportunity. It's exactly what I did. I learnt from the choices I made, refined the approach and came back so much stronger." 

To find out more about Wild Chai and its products, click here.

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