Russian Tea

I made Russian Tea today! Well, actually last winter, but I am finally sharing this with you. Russian Tea was really popular back when I was a kid, maybe in the 70s? Gosh, that is starting to sound like a very long time ago. I remember this drink fondly as a kid and it was all the rage at the time. It was a drink that the whole family could drink on a cold day and that is still true today. It is great to warm you up after building a snowman or shoveling the driveway. But just to settle down with a good book in your comfiest chair works for me. And bonus! It is not as sweet as hot chocolate and spices like cinnamon are good for you!

My father mentioned making Russian Tea to me the other day and I knew that I just had to make some. So I began with a search of the internet and there are quite a few recipes floating around. I picked one that sounded right and went shopping to buy all of the ingredients. And yes, they do still make Tang! I was not sure about that, but I found it at Walmart. Who knew, right? They also had the lemon instant tea which is another ingredient I never use. Here is the recipe for my first batch of Russian Tea.

This is the original recipe from the Tang container.

Recipe #1

  • 1 1/3 cups Tang
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Instant tea
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Tang directions: Combine ingredients and store in tightly covered jar. Makes approximately 24 servings. For 1 serving – Place 1 well-rounded teaspoon of mix in a cup, fill with boiling water and stir until dissolved. For 1 quart – Dissolve 1/2 cup mix in 1 quart of boiling water in a teapot or heat-resistant pitcher.

So I gathered up the ingredients and made the recipe. I measured the Tang and instant tea into a large bowl. Then I added the spices. I use whole nutmeg, so I had to grate that into the cap so I could then use a measuring spoon. I wanted to follow this recipe exactly the first time through. But in the future, I will probably not be so precise.

Grating the whole nutmeg

The recipe says to use 2 heaping teaspoons of the mix per mug. So I made a hot steaming mug!

Hmmm, the taste was not what I remembered! It did not have enough spices and was too ‘Tangy”. It was more of a hot orange drink. Not bad! But also not Russian Tea. I added more cinnamon and that helped, so not a total loss.

More searching of the internet! They all seemed really similar and  I was afraid of ending up with a ton of mixed up tea that were still not right. Finally, I decided to search through all of my old recipes. Sure enough, in my first recipe box from my college days, there was “Russian Tea” on an old recipe card. You can see it in the first picture at the beginning. My parents obtained this particular recipe from a good friend of theirs and her name was right on the card. So I knew this was the one! It was special even back then and there were obvious differences from the first recipe. Here is my childhood recipe for Russian Tea.

Recipe #2

  • 1 cup Tang
  • 3/4 cup low calorie lemon flavor instant tea
  • 1/4 cup regular instant tea
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp powder cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Now, I had to go back to the store and buy plain instant tea. That done! The ratio of tea, tang and spices was quite different.  No added sugar either! It was time for me to make a new batch.  It only takes  few minutes to whip up the mix. And I could see right away that this recipe was going to have more spice flavor. Yes!

Everything mixed together
Tang, Teas and Spices

Then the taste test! It was good with two heaping teaspoons of mix.  But I added a little more mix and it was perfect. Then I sat down with my perfect hot cup of Russian Tea and enjoyed a good book. Just in time to watch the snow falling out my window.

I made a batch for my father too since he was my inspiration. He thought it seemed different from what he remembered. But, of course, it can’t be different since it was that original recipe saved all of these years. Sometimes it is good to save things that really just can’t be replaced. Recipes are that way. We can get very particular about recipes from our past and they can be impossible to replace or replicate. And sometimes, the recipe does not seem to be quite what we remember even with the exact recipe. Dad!

Two Batches

Try one of these recipes depending upon your spice level. You can adjust to your taste either in the mix or with each cup. It really makes a difference upon how much mix you add to your cup, so you will need to play with that amount! You can see the spices in my cup!

I made another batch and packaged some of the mix in these cute small jars to give away as gifts. You can add them to a gift basket or give as a hostess gift at the holidays with a cute tag with instructions.

These made lovely gifts! So make some Russian Tea and let me know if you like it with a lot of spice or a little? Sometimes I prefer the more orange flavor myself. Just depends upon the day!

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