1 large whole vanilla bean , split open with a knife & scooped out with a knife/spoon to remove essence
1/8 c. (2 Tbsp.) cut licorice root
1 Tbsp. anise seeds
2 Tbsp. whole Chinese star anise
1/2 Tbsp. cut sarsaparilla
Directions: Bring the water to a rolling boil in a large pot, about 8 minutes. Add all spices & continue to boil for another 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to steep for another 1-2 minutes, strain to remove whole herbs & spices, & then pour into a tea pot or other heat proof pitcher/container. (If it's easier, use heat-proof tongs first to remove the larger pieces -- vanilla bean, Chinese star anise, cinnamon bark, etc. -- before straining.) Pour into tea cups and serve. Tea can be served either hot or cold (as an herbal iced tea).
Chef's Notes: Please note, this recipe makes a LOT of tea. As in, enough for a large army. :) So, you might need to halve or quarter the recipe to bring it down to a more reasonable size. The reason the yield's so high is that I used a whole vanilla bean, which is quite fragrant and strong (!), and had to balance it out by adding more water. :) I've never really sliced a vanilla bean in half or quartered it, as I've always used it whole, but of course, you can do this if you like, if you decide to cut the recipe yield.
Also, I strongly recommend that you don't substitute the vanilla bean for vanilla extract, as the extract will leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Believe me, I tried that in the first go-round/batch and the results weren't pretty. ;) The taste of a fresh vanilla bean simply cannot be matched by extract or imitation vanilla , the latter of which is not even healthy for you anyhow.
Also, use a fresh orange when making the orange zest. The commercially sold dried orange peel is bitter, and won't taste very good in this tea recipe. So, be sure to use the fresh stuff!