Russian Tea

Warm and comforting, Russian Tea is a favorite family recipe that’s been passed down for generations in my family. Today I’m taking it up a notch with a few modifications of my own! 

Russian Tea makes for a flavorful winter warmer. Serve this Southern punch at a party or sip it on a cold day. // Feast + West

The cold weather is back. Even though I’m writing this with a thick blanket draped over my lap and my space heater aiming at my feet, I’m okay with it.

I know I’m in the minority, but I love winter.

Particularly, the coziness of winter.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the summer sun burns my skin or maybe it’s the lovely bulk of winter clothing, or maybe it’s just that I like to stay inside and drink warm beverages. Maybe all of the above.

Russian Tea makes for a flavorful winter warmer. Serve this Southern punch at a party or sip it on a cold day. // Feast + West

It’s been a long time since I shared a family recipe on here, and I couldn’t think of a better one than my family’s favorite winter drink, Russian Tea.

To be honest, this tea is really more of a punch, and it’s more Southern than it is Russian. 

This is the beverage my great-grandmother served at gatherings from November to February, whether it was book club with her best ladies or the family Christmas Eve get-together.

I was young when she passed away (at age 102!), but I still remember her making a huge pot of Russian Tea on the stove, its spiced aromas wafting throughout her house when you walked in the door.

Now, my aunts, grandmother and parents carry on the Southern tradition to make Russian Tea in the wintertime.

Russian Tea makes for a flavorful winter warmer. Serve this Southern punch at a party or sip it on a cold day. // Feast + West

A lot like apple cider, Russian Tea is steeped on the stove with spices and fruits. And tea, of course.

My great-grandmother’s recipe calls for Lipton tea bags, sugar, lemon and orange juice, a can of crushed pineapple and cloves.

Her recipe is very sweet, and I almost always cut the sugar in half (or more) and sweeten it to my liking. Sometimes the fruit pulp gets a little intense — you either like it or you don’t, but you can strain it out if you’re not a fan.

(There’s a family debate about whether the pulp is called ‘junk’ or ‘trash.’ Me? I’m team no-trash.)

My great-grandmother’s recipe is an old standby, and it’s great. One of my aunts taught me to use fresh (not canned) fruits and juices for a stronger flavor.

But even still, I’ve always felt this Russian Tea recipe was missing something.

Russian Tea makes for a flavorful winter warmer. Serve this Southern punch at a party or sip it on a cold day. // Feast + West

Recently, my dad showed me an old cookbook he came across that has recipes from my great-grandmother’s era. In this cookbook is a recipe for Russian Tea that’s much different from the one I’m used to — but not in a bad way.

(And yes, there are bad Russian Tea recipes. Some of the ones I’ve seen online call for gross stuff like Tang and instant tea.)

For example, there’s no pineapple in the old cookbook recipe, but it does call for apples and cinnamon sticks, two things my great-grandmother’s does not.

Russian Tea makes for a flavorful winter warmer. Serve this Southern punch at a party or sip it on a cold day. // Feast + West

Because I’ve been wanting to tweak the family recipe for years, I decided to merge these two recipes and see where it took me. The result was perfect. Exactly what I’d been looking for. I also decided to throw in some candied ginger for an extra bite.

A big pot of Russian Tea is a recipe fit for any chilly day. You can also drink it cold, with ice, if you prefer!

Actually, that would probably be quite lovely in the summer too. But for now I’ll keep savoring the winter weather. // susannah 

Russian Tea makes for a flavorful winter warmer. Serve this Southern punch at a party or sip it on a cold day. // Feast + West

Russian Tea

Yield: 3 quarts
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Russian Tea is a warm citrus tea punch for a chilly day

Ingredients

  • 9 English Breakfast tea bags
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 medium pineapple, cored
  • 1 quart fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, to taste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 4 to 6 pieces candied ginger

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add tea bags. Let steep until rich in color, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags.
  2. While the tea is steeping, prepare the fresh produce. Quarter the apple. Halve and deseed the lemons. Juice the lemons — do not discard rinds. Dice the pineapple into 1- or 2-inch pieces. If you prefer more pulp, place the pineapple into the blender on the 'chop' setting.
  3. Place the pot of tea on medium heat. Stir in the orange juice, 1/2 cup sugar, apple, lemon juice, lemon rinds, pineapple and any juices. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and candied ginger. Stirring frequently, bring to a simmer (not a boil) and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 hours. (The longer it cooks, the stronger the flavors will be.)
  4. Remove the apple, lemon rinds and spices. If desired, strain out the pulp. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Serve warm, or allow to cool and serve iced.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 8 fl. ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 121Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 27gProtein: 1g

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Comments

  1. Erin @ The Speckled Palate says

    I love that your great grandmother made this tea during the wintertime and that you’re carrying on the tradition. What a lovely tradition to keep! I’m totally with you and enjoy the wintertime, as well. Mostly for the warm drinks and layers and any excuse to snuggle up in front of a fire, haha.

    I’ve never had Russian Tea before, but I really like the sound of this. Fruit and tea together makes me super happy, and the combination of everything in this sounds delightful. Totally gonna make a batch of this if it ever gets cold in Dallas again. (Now watch – it’s gonna get cold and ice/snow for Lady Baby’s birthday since it’s been so lovely this month. CALLING IT!)

  2. Erin says

    The tea looks gorgeous and I bet my kids would LOVE it if I made a big pot of this. Love all the flavors together. I haven’t ever had citrus brewed with the tea – so interesting. I have such fond memories of tea with my grandmother and my mother-in-law continues to have “tea parties” with my girls – continuing the tradition!

    • Susannah says

      Thank you, Erin! I bet your kids would love it too. I drank this a lot as a kid! You should definitely try combining tea and citrus juices. It makes a for a lovely flavor! I think it’s so cool you are teaching your girls about tea parties! We must cherish those memories.

  3. grace says

    what, no vodka? just kidding. 🙂
    i’m not a tea lover, but i have to admit that the ingredients in this are all wonderful and make it very appealing! thanks for sharing!

    • Susannah says

      Hah, surprising, right? You could TOTALLY spike it with vodka. Or rum! I tried it with rum recently and it made it so lovely and tropical. So worth it. Thanks for your comment, Grace!

  4. Rose Sinning says

    Ok I confess I am not techy…
    I can’t for the life of me find the actual recipe for your Russian Tea anywhere in this article.
    Help me out!

  5. Abigail says

    Has anyone tried this with any other type of tea? (Rooibos Chai or an herbal tea) Just trying to think outside the box for keeping the caffeine down since my kiddo does drink it. I don’t have decaf black tea and would rather not use it so looking for suggestions outside of that. However, loved this recipe and about to make it again for the 2nd time this season!

    • Susannah says

      Hey Abigail! I’m so glad to hear you love this recipe. It’s one of my favorites! I think you could absolutely use rooibos or chai for this. I’ve never tried it as my family always made it with black tea, but as an avid fan of rooibos and chai myself, I bet either one would be delicious. Let me know how it turns out! //susannah

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