Food Tales

The Best Chai Tea Outside India? Find It in the Heart of Philadelphia

by Joanna Williams

It's tea time! Photo by Joanna Williams.

Even when traveling 3,000 miles for business, the right cup of tea can bring you home. Fathom contributor Joanna Williams brews a little story.

PHILADELPHIA – I am not the kind of person who needs a pot of coffee in the morning. Coffee caffeine gives me anxiety, and, to be honest, I'm a high-energy human who doesn't need an extra boost.

What I do need from time to time, however, is a good cup of tea. I became a lover of chai on a trip to Istanbul a few years ago, and since then I have tried nearly every chai blend from Paris to Buenos Aires to .... Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love is home to The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop, a cozy and quaint tea room and café in the Northern Liberties neighborhood.

About four years ago, I was introduced to their homemade chai — a blend of green cardamom, cinnamon, clove, star anise, cayenne, nutmeg, black pepper, and single state assam that they brew fresh every day in a large cauldron with steamed whole milk, rosewater, brown sugar, fresh ginger, and vanilla. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

I'm lucky enough to visit every three months for business, so I consider myself somewhat of a regular. My enthusiasm for their recipe has led me to befriend the employees, and, as soon as I walk in the door, I know I'm in for good conversation, introductions to interesting people, and lessons about proper chai. I have yet to travel to Asia to experience the holy grail, but I was there when a man visiting from India took one sip of their recipe and declared it "the best chai I've had outside of India." That's got to count for something.



The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop
713 N. 4th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123


Buy the chai online at


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