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Russian spice tea

My house smells amazing right now, because I am making my great-grandmother’s Russian spice tea, to bring to my friends’ Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a delightful winter party drink, and it’s also good to make if you have a household full of people fighting a cold.

And, speaking of cold and flu season, because the recipe was already on my mind, I also made the instant version, so that we can drink it all winter. It’s good when you’re feeling well, but it feels like magic when you are stuffy or have a bit of a sore throat. (You could throw in more cloves for extra numbing effect—who needs Chloraseptic?)

The instant version isn’t something you’d confuse for the real thing. It’s a tasty beverage in its own right, but it is different from the fresh version. It’s good to have on hand, though: I don’t know about you, but I don’t always have the energy to juice 11 citruses. (With arthritis, I don’t actually ever; Dale juiced more than half of the citruses today.)

I’m sharing both recipes here, so that you can also enjoy one or both of these winter beverages. (Fair warning: they both contain a fair bit of sugar.)

Nanny’s Russian spice tea

(with a few modifications by Coral)


  • 8 cups water
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (more would be OK)
  • 3 bags of black tea
  • 3 lemons
  • 8 oranges
  • 2 cups sugar


Juice the citruses. (Keep the peels, and you can use them for candied citrus peels. Don’t listen to Martha Stewart; you don’t have to include grapefruits, and lemon and lime peels are both great, candied.)

Put the spices and the water into a pot, and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat, add the tea bags, and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Add the citrus juice and sugar.

Enjoy hot. If you don’t drink it all right away, it’ll last in the refrigerator for a few days and can be reheated by the mugful.

Instant Russian spice tea

(with a few modifications by Coral)


  • 2 cups of Tang powder
  • 1 pouch of Wyler’s lemonade mix (I used 6 of those little “make a bottle of water into lemonade” pouches, and that worked fine)
  • 1.5 cups of unsweetened instant tea powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 scant tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger (more would be fine)
  • 3/4 cup sugar


Mix all of the ingredients up. Store in an airtight container (or several — one for home, one for work, etc.).

To drink: Mix two heaping teaspoons per cup of hot water.


(The image from the post header shows both types of Russian spice tea, together.)

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