Image: Fatema as a child (left in a pink dress) with her sister Jumana and parents in London.
The smell of hot chai tea brewed by mum meant comfort and company to me as a child. Drinking a cup of fragrant chai meant sharing a moment with important people and easing the day's stress.
Our guests would be seated in the formal ‘Chai Room’ while my sister and I served up hot, spiced tea in mum’s best Royal Albert porcelain teacups.
The move from UK to Sydney...
When I moved to Sydney from the UK in 2008, I started brewing chai from loose tea as a connection to home. I'd also left an exciting and busy career as a fashion designer working for Collette Dinnigan - I missed my home, my family and my work.
But I made the difficult but right choice to step out of a busy career after I had my first child. My family tradition of making chai was my saviour - it helped me get back in touch with myself and my values.
When I re-connected with how amazing and full of goodness this drink was, I was inspired to start making chai tea at home from my own spiced, chai mix. My friends loved it and I too, began serving my own brew of Indian masala tea to guests from special tea sets.
The product of those cumulative experiences and my dream: The Chai Room.
Growing up, my mother would always cook meals using fresh, raw ingredients she ground herself.
It's from her that I've learnt the art of hand-drying and making my own masala chai spices - a legacy I inherited and one I use to create my Chai Room tea blends.
I first set up stalls at local markets in Sydney and sold fresh, hot, masala chai out of big pots. I made some great connections while brewing chai from my own blends. To my great surprise, I received an amazing response and fell in love with talking to people and seeing them drink my chai.
Seeing my customers support my business so enthusiastically, I decided to venture out and sell my chai blends to cafes. The response was incredible! I was so happy that other people wanted to share my passion for chai and I loved seeing them enjoy their first sips of my chai tea.
I also love talking to people during tastings at the cafes and stores that I sell at; it's by far one of the best parts of the job!
Image: Fatema with her mum
It's exciting to bring a vibrant tea culture to Australia; a drink and ritual that's such an important part of my Indian and British upbringing. I would love for the chai tea ritual to also become a part of your daily life, to help you take a break from your busy life and look after your wellbeing inside and out.
As a mother, I know how important it is to stay healthy so I can be there for my children. Chai is my way of taking a sneaky few minutes for myself, to get lost in the intoxicating aroma, to symbolically reconnect with my family in the UK and to know that I am doing something good for my body.
It’s always the simple and pure things in life that are the best.
The Chai Room is all about creating healthy, fragrant and re-energising chai tea for people to enjoy, take a moment for themselves and share with those they love.
I also want my chai to help you reconnect with and nurture yourself, no matter where you're in your life and the choices you've made to get there.
Health and happiness comes from the inside and out. It’s this philosophy we want to bring to the world and to pass on to the next generation.
Image: Fatema with her mum and sister, Jumana / Fatema with her son Qasim, the next generation of chai lovers.