If you're looking for a fun and unique homemade gift idea for the holidays, this could be your answer. Loose rooibos tea leaves are infused with chai-inspired spices to make a festive winter-warming tea. But I have to warn you, a rogue spice found its way into the bunch. It is Chinese five spice powder! If you're not familiar with five spice powder, it is a combination of cinnamon, fennel, clove, star anise, and black pepper. Though not a traditional Chai ingredient, it melds perfectly with the other spices because it capitalizes on the spicy-sweet notes for which Chai is famous. Plus its ground powder form permeates the entire tea mixture giving it the most delicious aroma. The five spice powder adds something extra but if you don't happen to have it on hand the remaining spices still give the tea a wonderful flavor.
We went to Switzerland's Slow Food festival in November. Local producers of cheese, chocolate, meat, wine, and the like set up shop to give away samples and sell their products. It was a great way to learn more about the local food scene, and I was pleasantly surprised to run across a few small-scale artisanal start-ups featuring yummy creations like raw fudge, raw energy bars and rooibos tea mixes. This spotting was my inspiration to go home and make my own rooibos tea fusion.
Whether it is this tea or another, I hope you find time to sip on something festively flavorful in the coming weeks. And in the meantime I will be back soon with my last post of the year to share a favorite oven-baked breakfast skillet recipe that is quick to put together and perfect for company.
And finally, before I leave you with the recipe, I cannot wait any longer to tell you that I have a BIG surprise in store for you in January! I am not going to give it away yet, but let me put it this way. It has been in the works for months. And if you want to get your new year off to a good start you will definitely want to tune in and tell your friends and family because you are in for a real treat!
Homemade Chai-Spiced Rooibos Tea
Makes 2 cups or 4-5 small gift jars
100 g (1 1/2 cups) loose rooibos tea
3 (3-4 in.) cinnamon sticks
4 tsp. cardamom pods
3 tsp. whole cloves
2 Tbsp black peppercorns
3 tsp. five spice powder
1/4 cup sugared ginger, finely chopped
Break cinnamon sticks into small shards and crush cardamom pods with the back of your knife. Place all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Divide among desired airtight containers to store.
Notes: I like steeping this tea in milk (usually oat or almond) because the richness of the milk, opposed to water, allows the flavors of the tea to really shine. Prepared this way, I enjoy it at night especially, as a non-caffeinated alternative to hot chocolate.
Place 1 1/2 cups milk of choice in a small saucepan with 2 teaspoons of tea. Cover and warm over medium heat (~5 min). Remove from heat and let steep, covered (~5 min). Strain tea into a mug, sweeten with honey, and enjoy!