At Gray Duck, we produce small batch, traditionally-crafted chai. Our blends are made from organic, fair trade tea from the Assam region of India where chai originates. The day we brew, organic spices are milled by hand, fresh raw ginger is added, as well as just enough sweetness to bring out the full flavor or the spice. When you drink a cup of Gray Duck Chai it has been hand brewed by owners, Jon Alden and Katey Alden.
Combined, the pair has more than 20 years of experience working with food, wine, and cocktails. Katey, originally from Hastings, MN, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York with a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts Management. After spending 5 years cooking in New York she decided to switch coasts and continue her passion in Seattle, WA. While living in Seattle it is impossible to escape a love of great coffee, and in turn great chai.
After being exposed to so much chai and drinking so many great blends of the tea she loved she began making her own at home. This is essentially the genesis of Gray Duck Chai. Katey eventually moved back to MN and began working at Meritage Brasserie in Saint Paul. Jon Alden, a native of Hopkins, MN, also decided to leave town for college. He attended San Francisco State University with a focus in computer science.
While in school he was fortunate enough to work in two top San Francisco restaurants, Mecca SF and Winterland. It was there that he got to work with some of the city’s foremost sommeliers and expand his passion of wine. For 4 years Jon stayed in the Bay Area and continued his education in both programming and vino. Eventually, like most mid-westerners, he found his way back to the Twin Cities and planted his roots.
After coming home Jon began working for a small start-up IT firm as well as working nights at Meritage. This is where he met Katey and his career path took a major turn. On a chilly September day in 2011 Katey brewed Jon his first cup of chai. He instantly knew she had something special and encouraged her to share it. The two began daily recipe testing and soon the Nine Spice Blend was born. After getting all of their ducks in a row (pun intended) they sold their first bottle of chai in June of 2012.