Vanilla Rooibos Tea Cookies
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons rooibos tea leaves (about 5 tea bags)
1 vanilla bean, whole, ends trimmed, cut into segments
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Heat a small stainless steel pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, add rooibos leaves, and shake pan to distribute tea into a single layer. Toast for about 2 minutes, until tea is fragrant but not darkened. Depending on your leaves, this may happen much more quickly; watch it carefully. When leaves are fragrant, transfer them to a bowl and let cool for a couple minutes.
Combine the sugar, vanilla bean, and rooibos in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for about 2 minutes, until there are no chunks of bean left in the bowl. Add the powdered sugar, flour, and salt to the bowl and pulse a few times to combine. Then add the milk, vanilla, and butter and pulse several times, until a dough forms.
Turn dough onto a very lightly floured surface, gather it together, and roll it gently into a log 1.5-inches in diameter.
Sprinkle turbinado sugar on a plate or work surface, and roll cookie dough log in the sugar, making sure to cover the entire surface of the log with sugar. Wrap log in plastic or wax paper and transfer to the fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes to chill. (You can leave the log in the freezer and slice off cookies one by one, whenever the urge strikes.)
When ready to bake, turn on the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.
Remove log from fridge or freezer, and cut 1/3-inch slices off the log, rotating the log as you go to ensure that cookie slices stay round. Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between each (they don’t really spread, but they need breathing room to crisp up). Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are just starting to brown. Leave on the cookie sheet to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks.
Cookies will keep in an airtight container for several days.