Growing up in Newport Beach, we would always go to The Good Earth restaurant in Fashion Island. Yes, it was a health-food establishment… in the 80s (I’ll let you imagine the décor). I loved going, and so did the whole family, even my over-the-shoulder-sweater-wearing parents.
One of the best things about The Good Earth was the spicy chai-like tea that perfumed the entire restaurant. You can still buy the tea in supermarkets, but my good friend Mollie (of Trattoria Mollie and our cooking class) shared her version with me the other day after lunch at her restaurant. She combines cinnamon, star anise, thyme, and black tea, then brews it for at least 30 minutes. It’s spicy and delicious—just like my beloved chai. I decided to re-create her recipe using herbs from the garden instead black tea so I could enjoy it at all hours. This tea was super simple, fresh, and beat the pants off of any chai I’d ever had. It brought me back to The Good Earth, like I was a kid again eating my peanut butter and banana on sprouted wheat. And while it’s wonderful on its own, I highly recommend jazzing it up with a little honey and some steamed milk for the perfect chai latte (I used my Aeroccino Frother). Yum!
Caffeine Free Chai
1 handful lemon verbena leaves*
1 handful mint leaves*
4 sprigs of thyme
Two thin slices of ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
6 cups water
*You can substitute the lemon verbena and the mint with your favorite tea, either decaf or regular, depending on your preference.
Boil ingredients on the stove for 30 minutes. Strain and serve as is or stir in some honey and hot, frothy milk for a yummy latte.