Brrr!! It’s been so cold in South Texas this last week! It even snowed and stuck! This is big news for us. I live in South Texas because I’m not a super big fan of the extreme cold. I prefer to be warm, more often than not. Yet, one of the things I do like about cold weather is that it provides a reason to make and enjoy my grandmother’s spiced tea. Her spiced tea is a bit different from any other spiced tea I’ve tried out there, and truthfully I find the rest to be lacking because I love hers so much. It’s a heartier drink than your average tea will ever be, I think. For me, it is such a comforting winter beverage that it makes the cold dreary days a bit more tolerable. The recipe makes so much that it practically begs you to invite some friends over to share with, which immediately brightens things up as well. When you are feeling under the weather, this drink has LOADS of vitamin C goodness and tastes way better than your medicine drops, so drink up, my friends. I encourage you to use it as a preventative measure even. 🙂 It’s a wonderful winter beverage.
My Grandmother’s Spiced Tea
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
18 – 20 whole cloves*
3 – 4 sticks cinnamon*
hunk of peeled fresh ginger*
3 cans (11.5 oz) peach nectar
3 cans (11.5 oz) apricot nectar
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups strong tea
* These are the ingredients that add the spice so they are flexible. I’ve added as little as a tablespoon, as much as an ounce, and just eyeballed it at other times. I like more – you may prefer less. Her original recipe calls for 12 – 14 cloves, 2+ sticks cinnamon, and no ginger. Make sure you are using whole spices and not ground. Ground will lead to a grainy beverage and that’s not good drinking.
1. Brew your tea and let sit for a while so that it will be strong. Last time I made this, I forgot and left it for well over an hour, and it did not adversely affect the taste. It is also probably sufficient to let it steep for 20 – 30 minutes. You can also use more than one tea bag if you like.
2. Mix the sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and ginger in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Let boil, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
3. Add the nectar, lemon juice, and tea. Stir and heat through so flavors have time to meld.
4. Serve and enjoy your wonderful winter beverage!
Yes, my friends, it really is that easy. During the winter months, I try to keep the nectar on hand in the pantry so that I can make spiced tea when the mood strikes me. It was quite the bummer on my snow day to discover that I was without. I will be rectifying that on the next grocery store trip. I keep my leftovers in a pitcher in the fridge and just pour a mug full in the mornings to enjoy while I’m getting ready for work. It’s a delightful way to start my day. I think you will find it to be the same for you.
My sister shared the following tip with me for reusing the cinnamon sticks. You can take them out of the tea, give them a quick rinse so they are no longer sticky, and lay them out to dry. Once they are dry, you can reuse them in the next batch. I think you can use them two or three times and still get good cinnamon flavor out of them. I usually use 2 or 3 recycled sticks and perhaps 1 fresh stick. Given that good quality cinnamon sticks are not the cheapest item on the market, this is a good way to get the most mileage out of them. It’s probably a good idea to keep them separate from your other, non-used cinnamon sticks, though.
Ginger is an ingredient that I did not use very often for the longest time because it naturally comes in large chunks and I only would use a wee bit at a time, until I started putting it in my spiced tea. Then one day, I was watching Food Network and learned that you can freeze ginger and it will keep a mighty long time that way. Well hello! Yes, please! So now, I buy the ginger, bring it home, peel it, wrap it tight in plastic wrap, and keep it in a zip-top bag in the freezer. It seriously seems to keep forever. When I need it, I just bring it out and grate it frozen which works just fine, or let it thaw the tiniest bit to get a few slices. It’s usually an imperfectly shaped slice, but I’ve yet to need perfect slices for my cooking. It actually seems to grate better frozen than when thawed.
It’s quite easy to peel too. I don’t usually need to use a peeler, although I have used that. The edge of a spoon seems to work just fine for me. The other day I watched a woman on Food Network use a knife to slice off the peel; truthfully it seemed excessive to me as well as wasteful of the ginger she cut off with the peel. If you use the edge of a spoon, the brown peel will just scrape right off. But you feel free to try both ways and go with what you prefer. After all, it is your kitchen, and you are the boss of it. I do recommend peeling it prior to freezing it. Let my hard learned lesson help you out.
I heard that the groundhog in Pennsylvania did not see his shadow, so theoretically, spring is on its way. Hallelujah, I say! But on the chilly days sure to come before then, I invite you to whip up some spiced tea, invite some friends over, break out a board game, and don’t let winter get you down! Happy drinking!
Nutritional Information – approximately 3/4 cup
Carbs: 32 g
Vitamin C: 49.5 %
PS – If you haven’t been over to the Food Memories page in a while, you should because Spiced Tea is mentioned twice. One is a more obvious mention than the other, so feel free to read all the memories to find them both. 🙂 Plus – there is just some good stuff over there.