It's not a holiday meal in the South without a pot of old fashioned Russian tea bubbling on the stovetop. Created in the late 1800s, Russian tea's origins begin with the Russian style of drinking tea and creating a strong concentrate of tea, zavarka, and then diluting it with hot water, sugar, and lemon. Bit it wasn't until the 1960s that the Russian tea recipe included Tang, a new orange drink mix, and instant black tea mix, to make the hot drink. Since then, the recipe has been a staple in Church cookbooks and on Christmas morning.
How to Make Russian Tea
The first time I tried Russian tea was at my boyfriend's Nana's home for Thanksgiving. One cup of the spiced tea and I was hooked.
There are two ways to prepare Russian tea; either mix up a Russian tea mix to stir into a mug of boiling water or prepare a whole batch. I prefer making batches but plan on making some dry mix this year to package in mason jars and hand out to family and friends.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup instant tea, 2 cups Tang, 3 oz. powdered lemonade mix, 2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Whisk or stir together the mix and place it into an airtight container. When ready, mix 3-4 tablespoons into a cup of warm water to make a cup of tea.
The other way to make Russian tea is in a big batch. This recipe is a big more "refined" since it uses fresh ingredients instead of powdered. Orange juice is swapped out for Tang, Lipton black tea bags for instant tea, and lemon juice for lemonade mix. Whole cloves and cinnamon sticks pull the whole thing together, while the mixture simmers for an hour to meld the flavors together.
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Russian Tea is a classic Southern holiday drink that is filled with tea, pineapple, lemon and a hint of orange. Try to only drink one mug, we dare you.
- 12 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 Tbsp whole cloves
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 6 black tea bags
- 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
- 1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- In a large pot bring the water, sugar, cloves and cinnamon to a boil. Add the tea bags and reduce to a simmer, and simmer 1 hour.
- Remove from heat and discard tea bags and spices. Stir in pineapple juice, orange juice concentrate and lemon juice. Serve warm.
Serve with lemon slices and cinnamon sticks. Wanna spike it? Add a splash of bourbon.