A warm cup of spice for a chilly day

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The California sun can deceptively disguise a chilly winter day.  I have been finding myself sipping hot coffee with cream throughout the day to warm up.  However, this chai tea is caffeine free and a great drink in the afternoons as a warm cup of spice!  I used red rooibos loose leaf tea I bought at the local health food store, however you could use herbal tea bags or black tea as well.

The dried spices give a Christmas in a cup feel and are way cheeper to buy than an afternoon trip to Starbucks (and with way less sugar!).  Rooibos, a popular African tea, actually contains many antioxidants and some Vitamin C.

6 cups water

9 tablespoons loose leaf tea (9 tea bags)

3 cinnamon sticks

3 star anise

2 teaspoon whole cloves

1 vanilla bean

4 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon crushed cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon fennel

zest of 1 orange

juice of 1 orange

2 tablespoons honey

ImageHeat the water in a pan until it begins to boil.  Combine the tea and dry spices in a mixing bowl.  Crush the cardamom pods until they split open (easy to do with the flat end of a knife handle). Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the insides into the bowl with the spices.  Add the dry tea and spices except for the orange and honey.

Simmer with lid on lowest heat for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and add orange zest, juice andhoney.  Toss in the empty vanilla bean pod.  Let the tea mixture steep for 30 minutes.

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Strain all ingredients.  Let the tea cool and then transfer to glass jars.  Concentrate will last in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.

Serve 1 cup chai concentrate with about 1/2 cup milk, or more depending on your taste buds.  Heat ingredients and enjoy! You could also add heavy whipped cream for a tasty, warm treat!

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