Homemade Chai Tea -- Winter

What better way to warm up then a hot cup of tea.  I am firm believer that no tea bag can rival chai tea made from all fresh herbs and spices.  This recipe contains several amazing ingredients that have wonderful medicinal qualities.  These herbs help with digestion, circulation, blood sugar balance, and are full of antioxidants.  This recipe can be made in large batches and can use caffeinated black tea or decaffeinated tea such as rooibos.  Enjoy this blend on a cool rainy day!

2 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 whole star anise broken up
1 tsp grated orange peel
4 1 and a 1/2 inch long pieces of cinnamon stick
1 tsp cardamom seeds
10 whole cloves
5 whole peppercorns
5 cups water
1/4 cup tea leaves (black, green, or rooibos)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (optional)
3 cups milk (hemp, almond, rice, or other)

Bundle up the first 7 ingredients in a length of cheese cloth and tie it together with a string.  Place the bundle in a pot of water (tie the string to the handle for easy removal).  Bring the water to a very low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer.  (boiling water might extract too much bitterness from the tea leaves).  Add the tea leaves and continue simmering for 15 minutes.  Remove the spice bundle.  Strain the remaining liquid to remove the tea leaves.  Add vanilla, milk of choice, and optional honey or maple syrup.  Makes 8 servings.