Taking a Chance on Chai - Bundaberg Region
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Taking a Chance on Chai

Picture a young aspiring journalist sipping chai outside a quirky café in a Melbourne laneway, dreaming of sunny skies and rain-free days. Image the moment her sun-soaked prayers were answered when a job opportunity in the sunny Bundaberg region became available. She was ready, ready to take a chance. Now, some 25 years later, the young journalist has transformed her career and life from damp days and story deadlines, to yoga classes and chai making in the warm Queensland sun.

Lonnie Toy, owner of Lonnie's Chai and Bundaberg Yoga, reveals the story behind Lonnie's Chai and the chance conversations that turned an at-home hobby into a business.

(Credit: Paul Beutel)

After growing up in Melbourne Lonnie was surprised at the lack of whole spice chai options in the region, and with much experimentation, a little help from a family recipe and a dash of determination to find that perfect cup, Lonnie's Chai was born. Early days saw the curious blend of flavours of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, star anise shared among friends, family and her yoga class, for Lonnie, selling her flavour-filled packs was never a thought to cross her mind. It wasn't until a chance conversation with one of Bundaberg's biggest foodie movers and shakers, Amanda Hinds, original owner of Indulge Café, did a glimmer of something greater appear. Seeing the potential in Lonnie's Chai, Amanda was quick to add the traditionally-brewed chai to her menu. And so, it began, from the family stove, to the kitchen of one of Bundaberg's most critically acclaimed cafes in one chance conversation.

(Credit: Paul Beutel)

In 2016, with encouragement from Amanda, Lonnie's Chai set up a stall at the Bundy Flavours & Winterfeast Farmers Market to share her love for chai and hope to entice locals and visitors to try something new. Her handmade local chai was a hit, with Nana's Pantry approaching her at the markets to order some for selling at their store. Now, years later Indulge Café and Nana's Pantry still sell Lonnie's Chai, a reflection on the quality of the local ingredients and the dedication of Lonnie to get the flavour perfect.

Nowadays Lonnie uses her chai and yoga classes to teach mindfulness, encourage others to step out of their comfort zone and try something new, and to showcase the array of fresh, local produce you can buy in region.

Where Can I Buy/Drink Lonnie's Chai?

You can order Lonnie's special blend chai or rooibos chai pot at both Indulge Café and Windmill Cafe Bargara

Wanting to blend your own at home? Stop into Nana's Pantry to get your hands on her signature blend, trust us, after Lonnie's 'Relax & Sip' event you'll be wanting to stock up!

While you're booking your next tour at the Bundaberg Visitor Information Centre you can also get your hands on some locally-made chai.

You can also grab your chai mix from the Alloway Farm Market while you pick up your fresh local produce.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2024

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