Instead of wine and champagne this holiday season, enjoy this dessert beverage. Chocolate is often a favorite, but this recipe combines cinnamon, ginger and cloves with rich cocoa for a warm spiced end to a delicious meal. Research shows that the antioxidants in tea and chocolate may improve blood vessel function and lower blood pressure. Remember though, that chocolate is a high calorie food, so moderate consumption is important for overall health.
Place cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, anise seed and ginger in medium saucepan, add 2 cups water, and place over medium-high heat. When water simmers, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tea bags, cover, and steep for 4 minutes. Remove tea bags, cover, and steep brewed tea with spices for 20 minutes. Strain to remove spices, and return spiced tea to saucepan.
In small bowl, whisk cocoa with 1/4 cup of hot tea until dissolved, then add to tea. Mix in vanilla, and almond or soymilk. Heat chai over medium-high heat until steaming. Sweeten to taste then pour into mugs, or divide chai among 4 mugs and sweeten it to taste individually.
*Note: Ginger root varies in thickness. If you have a fat piece, 2 slices may be enough.