Chicago entrepreneur Rowida Assalimy grew up drinking Kishr, a thousand-year-old hot drink that her parents used to bring home from visits to their native Yemen. The spicy, fragrant beverage is made from coffee cherries--berries from coffee trees--and is said to contain more antioxidants than green tea but half the caffeine.

Assalimy created an Americanized version of Kishr--a less spicy, more loose-tea-like experience than the traditional ground powder--after graduating from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business last year. And though she’s been selling it in a handful of specialty shops for the past few months, she just landed an entrepreneur’s dream deal: distribution with the cult-favorite Mariano’s grocery chain. 

On a recent chilly morning, we steeped a bag (about $13 for 8 sachets) for the recommended eight minutes in a mug of hot water. (You can add honey or sweetener; we were fine without.)

The aroma was heavenly--cinnamon, cardamom and ginger make it smell like a cup of earthy potpourri--and the liquid was a beautiful rosy-orange hue.

Think of it as tea’s rowdy, full-of-potential cousin.

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