Iced Rooibos Chai

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So do you ever go on vacation and pick up a new thing that you don’t regularly do at home? Like taking an early morning walk everyday or sleeping late and reading a book in bed or getting a massage. Whatever it is, when you’re on vacation it feels extra special, right?

I just got back from a two week road trip to Northern New Mexico. One thing that I adopted as my vacation thing was drinking chai tea almost everyday. It all started when we went to an Ayurvedic Indian restaurant in Santa Fe called Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe.

I love this place for about a million reasons, but I especially love their chai. And they have chai happy hour from 3-5pm everyday. CHAI HAPPY HOUR! How cool is that? At Annapurna’s, you can get hot or iced chai with cow or soy milk. It was just so delicious and made me happy.

So just about everywhere we wandered, I found some cool independent coffee shop and tried out their chai. Once I got home, I made my own batch using African Rooibos tea and lots of spicy spices. I like Rooibos because it’s full of antioxidants and caffeine-free, but you could use black tea too and the results would be great.

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I simmered fresh ginger slices with star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper first then added the rooibos and steeped the entire mixture for a while. As a bonus, this makes your kitchen smell heavenly. Then I poured everything into a pitcher and added a little almond milk. Pretty simple stuff.

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At this point, the chai can be served iced or reheated and served hot. You could even steam and froth some more almond milk for a chai latte, if you want. I didn’t sweeten the whole batch, but you could with turbinado sugar (a natural brown sugar) or honey, if you do that.

I actually bought the most amazing raw white honey in Taos and have been putting it in everything. Not vegan, I know, but I totally make an exception for good local honey.

Iced Rooibos Chai

Makes 1 pitcher

8 cups filtered water

2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

4 star anise pods

3 cinnamon sticks

1 whole nutmeg

1 Tbsp cardamom pods (I used green)

1 tsp black peppercorns

4-6 Rooibos tea bags

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Place water and whole spices in a stock pot set over medium high heat. Bring to a slow boil and turn heat down to low. Let simmer for about a half an hour. Add rooibos tea bags and steep for another half an hour. Mixture should become very dark. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a glass pitcher and add almond milk. Refrigerate until cold. Serve sweetened or unsweetened over ice.

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