I’ve been wanting to “warm the cockles of my heart” by physically increasing my core temperature with a soothing beverage. But it seems that I’d missed the subtlety of this funny old idiom, which also refers to the heart as an emotional centre. (The word “cockles” is attributed a number of origins, usually relating to the idea of chambers).
In my hunt for a soothing, warm beverage I came across this Rooibos Vanilla Chai by The Art of Tea, a local Tasmanian company that I have mentioned before. I usually steer clear of faddish excuses for “chai” , which are often just powdered milk, sugar and perhaps some cinnamon. Spiced blends can be hit-or-miss, and I think the outcome boils down (haha) to the skill of the person preparing the tea anyway. I chose this because it sounded like an unusual alternative.
I’ve tended to enjoy rooibos as a reviving, rehydrating choice in warm weather. I wasn’t sure whether it would work as a “chai” so I tried it without milk first and that was very smooth. With milk, the vanilla complements the rooibos beautifully. The spices in this blend are not overpowering at all, adding just a touch of flavour and warmth.
I haven’t yet brewed this up on the stove as a traditional milky chai but to be honest I think the appeal is that it provides that comforting feeling without the trouble. Plus, it tastes great without sugar.
Best of all, since it is caffeine-free, I can enjoy a warm milky rooibos chai late into the evening. It means I can heat my insides just before going to bed on a frosty night, and I find that idea pretty heartwarming.