Monday, February 02, 2015

Add Blackberry Leaf for Caffeine-free Black Tea-like Herbal Blends

I love coffee and black tea but if I add any sweetener (and I always want to have a little), the caffeine has a really weird effect. Other people drink it to feel more alert--it makes me sleepy and spaced out. I hate it, I can barely function. I've cut the amount of honey or sugar to a 1/4 tsp and it's still too much.

So I've developed a number of robust-tasting caffeine-free coffee substitutes and have been wildly experimenting with herbal blends.

My favorite surprise ingredient for approximating the taste of some types of black tea is Blackberry Leaf. It has a significant tannin content which is the astringent undertone I miss in, for example, Rooibos which is often recommended as a caffeine-free substitute. Today I added it to a favorite Chai-spiced blend and really liked the results.

Chai recipe? Well...I make it differently every time. And I'm lazy! It really needs to simmer for 30 minutes but I just add my ingredients to my teapot and let it sit for as long as it takes to make my breakfast. Today's recipe was more of a mild Chai-inspired blend but it was perfect for me today:

1 tsp Red Rooibos
1 tsp Blackberry Leaf
1 tsp Cinnamon Bark
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp hulled Cardamom
1 Star Anise star

Steeped about 10-15 minutes. Add honey and milk to taste.

This makes a nice spiced tea but without simmering on the stove it is not as strong as real Chai. Add more of the spices mentioned if you like. Try Cloves, Orange Peel, Fennel seeds, anything you think might be nice. Many people simmer the spices on the stove separately from the herbal ingredients (in this case, Rooibos and Blackberry Leaf) and that's what I'd really recommend if you like a strong-tasting real Chai experience. Experiment and enjoy finding out what you like.

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