The weather in North Carolina this week has been bitterly cold. Okay, I know you Northerners won’t think 19° is cold but for we southerners it is especially when it’s accompanied with wind. During these times, there is only one thing I can think of that chases the chills away, my mother’s Russian Tea. When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to get inside to have a cup. Nothing compared to it, not even hot chocolate.
After I grew up and moved away from home, my mother quit making Russian Tea and even lost the recipe. Whenever I would ask her how to make it, she would give me some recipes that she had collected over the years but none were it. For years, on my own, I would try to find recipes but none came close to duplicating the tea or the memories from my youth. Then suddenly about 4 years ago, I finally found one that even if it’s not how momma made it, it’s pretty darn close.
5 quarts water, divided
4 c sugar
2 Tbs whole cloves
1/3 inch piece cinnamon (I use way more than this)
6 family size tea bags
1 c pineapple juice
2/3 c orange juice or juice from about 3 oranges
Combine 1 quart of water, sugar, and spices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Strain (I don’t strain the spices out. Mom never did and that’s what made it so good). Bring 1 quart of water to boil and pour over tea bags. Steep 5 minutes. Combine spice mixture, tea and all of the juices. Boil remaining 3 quarts of water and add to above mixture. (I usually just add it directly to the mixture and bring back to just below boiling).
Serve with slices of orange. (I usually like to include a few pieces of the unstrained spices just like Mom use to do).
This version that’s as close as can be to mom’s appeared on http://www.wrcbtv.com/ on Jan 31, 2007.
Lastly, I have friends who make something under the same name to give as Christmas presents. This version is a mix made from tang, instant tea, etc. No offense to my friends but it’s just not the same.