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A Drink That Means Community: Reviewing “The Way of Chai”

The Way of Chai

My journey with chai began years ago when my love of tea evolved from grocery store brews to quality loose leaf blends. Like many others, I discovered Kevin Wilson through his chai-themed TikTok videos. He inspired me to really delve into the world of chai and brew my own. The chai-making process has become a wonderful quiet time that I cherish. 

The Way of Chai: Recipes for a Meaningful Life, Wilson’s first book, is a perfectly-flavored combination of chai brewing and thoughts on living life well.

The book takes readers through the chai-making process chapter by chapter, beginning with setting the table and moving toward brewing in community. I was immediately impressed by the book’s rich infusion of personal accounts. The stories in each chapter draw readers in and connect with his broader points. After introducing us to the world of chai, he tells us the story of his grandfather and how he worked to create a life for his family. It is clear that family means a lot to Wilson. As a reader who absorbs information best through storytelling, I enjoyed the book’s story-driven format.

Knowing that Wilson serves as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, a small part of me wondered how much the book might try to “evangelize” me. I cannot count how many times I have read books whose cheesy rhetoric practically force-feeds Jesus to readers. That is not this book. 

I was thoroughly impressed with the gentle way Wilson guides readers to think about Jesus and religion. This book is about life, and for Wilson, Jesus is part of life. The ideas Wilson laid out inspired my own thinking. After each chapter, I sat back to reflect on and internalize what I had just read, even though I also felt compelled to just keep reading. 

A chapter that stuck out to me was on journeying through grief. I experienced the loss of grandparents during my college years and the loss of my mother-in-law barely a month after I got married. That grief hasn’t subsided much for me. The pain feels fresh every time I think about it. 

Wilson writes, “I used to think grief was the opposite of joy . . . I wonder if grief is not necessarily the absence of joy but rather its strongest memory. Maybe the joy never left.” It makes sense. Remembering the joy that person brought reminds me how much they mattered. “Maybe to grieve is to keep remembering . . . which means that at every stage of our existence, we are never truly alone.”

I love that while trying the many chai recipes in this book I was invited to reflect on the deeper meaning Wilson blended with each drink. While working through the book, I made the recipe for Wilson’s signature chai. The recipe called for a little bit of sugar, an ingredient I don’t usually add to my chai, and I think it gave the drink depth I hadn’t experienced.

While The Way of Chai primarily provides reflections on living a meaningful life, Wilson also writes about the history of chai. He explains where tea comes from, its cultural significance, and what tea leaves go through to become ready for plucking. Each type of tea has a unique flavor profile that derives from the altitude at which it grows. Facts like these thrilled my inner tea nerd and inspired me to create my own unique blend! 

The book’s central theme is that chai breeds community. Where there are groups of people, there is chai to be had. It’s a symbol of hospitality; it’s a father preparing tea for his children, and it’s a warm beverage to give mourners a small lift. The love put into making a cup of chai is reflected in the people with whom it is shared. Chai isn’t meant to be kept to oneself. It’s meant for sharing, as Wilson illustrates through stories of giving and receiving the gift of chai. Each experience is unique, just like each cup of chai. In the same way, I think each reader will enjoy their own experience with this book. 

The Way of Chai is a 10/10 book for me, one I will return to again and again.

About the author

Jacklyn Frias is a Spectrum web producer and hosts the Adventist Tea TikTok channel. More from Jacklyn Frias.
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