Pasteur Mudende is working to share his love of tea with our community. If you’re one of the many local patrons that frequent the Red River Market, you know well that you can find great produce at this amazing event. Oftentimes you can also find a cultural experience in the form of a meal, piece of art or jewelry. Pasteur Mudende attempts to bring this in every drink he sells through his tea and coffee business, Chai Moto. Mudende, an artist who’s works are equally as powerful as the flavor of his teas, was originally born in Rwanda. He also spent time in Kenya before coming to the United States, where he traveled some more, spending time in both California and New York. We sat down with Mudende to learn more about his gourmet tea business.
Can you tell me about your experience with the New American Cohort?
It was really good. I was involved in two similar programs. The first one I did was hosted by Folkways and it was called CO.STARTERS, which is a nine-week program for people who are ready to get their business started.
The Challey Institute program is more focused on walking you through much of the same things but from a different perspective. All of the people in this program already have a business that they’re trying to refine. They try to help you figure out how to focus on the right customers, find your next step and find who you should contact at the moment to help with your business endeavors.
How did Chai Moto come to be?
Chai Moto came to be shortly after I was volunteering at the Red River Farmers Market. However, the idea itself came from the fact that I was from a tea-drinking community. Most of the world drinks tea more than coffee. Coffee is available, but tea is way more normalized than coffee. I love coffee, but I always wanted to drink tea here and there’s not much tea and there’s not much quality tea.
Have you taken any steps to ramp up your online presence with everything going on?
That was a really good opportunity that I missed because I was in the middle of rebranding. I had already started to change the packages and I was giving the website a facelift.
What do you use to get labels?
Originally, I wanted to have the labels printed here, because I know I would rather have them made locally than by somebody in China. However, the challenge with getting my labels printed here is that the minimum order quantity is higher than what my business can afford at the moment.
Do you think the Farmer’s Market is a valuable experience?
Yes, I went through a learning phase with it right away. Every day you try a thing and you fail. Or, you think you have a very good idea but it doesn’t really work out as imagined. For example, I was originally serving all of my drinks unsweetened, so I had to add sweetener whenever a customer requested it. But, then I realized that people were dictating how much sweetener they want and that was taking too much time. But that’s the thing, the Red River Farmers’ Market allows you the grace to fail forward, and eventually, you figure it out.
So can you tell me about some of those other times where you had learning experiences or failed when you’re at the farmers market?
Yeah, I forgot to bring ice on the first day. I always joke that my first day at the Farmer’s Market was the worst day of my life which is pretty much not true. On my first day, I was not prepared. I bought compostable cups online and I got them the day I was set to debut at the market. When I opened them, they had melted flat because of heat.
How do you come up with all your blends?
I’ve tried to come up with a couple of tea blends. I usually start with a base that could be a particular type of tea, then I try to complement the flavor profiles of that tea with spices and herbs that capture different notes.
What do you use for the commerce on your website?
Squarespace, but I might be looking to change that.
Chai Moto’s Farmer’s Market Menu
Chai Tea: Originating from India and well-like all over the world. This blend has tasting notes of spice, full bodied and savory. Enjoy with a samosa.
Hibiscus Tea: Crafted to make you fall in love! This tropical infusion produces a refreshing herbal tea perfect for a hot day.
Tabasamu: This Hojicha and green tea blend delivers a combination of earthiness with vanilla and cocoa flavors. This is a delicious and fun blend to enjoy throughout the day.
Zanzibar Spice Nitro Coffee: This is a lovely twist to a traditional favorite. This special blend elicits sweet floral notes with a rich finish.