Russian Tea is a Taste of the Past


Russian Tea


"Winter must be cold for those with no warm mem­o­ries." ~From the movie An Affair to Remember


I was sit­ting in Our Little House this week­end enjoy­ing the warmth of the wood stove and look­ing out onto the 10.5 inches of snow when a crav­ing from a long time past hit me.

Russian Tea. There was noth­ing that would make me hap­pier than a nice, hot cup of Russian Tea.

I don’t remem­ber if my mother received a jar as a gift or if she got the recipe, as she did so many ideas then from Country Living Magazine, but I do remem­ber it was Christmas 1979 when I believe she first started mak­ing it.

We had moved that sum­mer from Our Little Bungalow into my mom’s dream home, a turn of the cen­tury brick Tudor with a ceramic tile roof.

It wasn't a man­sion, by any mea­sure, but it was one of the largest homes in our rail­road com­mu­nity, built by the man who founded both the bank and the gen­eral store.

It sat on a half-acre cor­ner lot and with its orig­i­nal leaded glass win­dows and built in book­cases, china cab­i­nets and chan­de­liers, it was a gor­geous home.

Restoring the old home to its for­mer glory allowed my mother’s cre­ative abil­ity to really shine, in her dec­o­rat­ing and in the kitchen.

197980 was a cold, snow filled win­ter. I remem­ber my dad walk­ing the few blocks to his rail­road job sev­eral times because the roads were snow packed.

It was a per­fect win­ter to enjoy the lemony orange good­ness of Russian Tea, which became a sta­ple in my mother’s kitchen.  It could always be found in one of her antique tins on her counter.

If you've never had Russian Tea, it is a sug­ary mix­ture of orange Tang, pre-sweetened Country Time Lemonade, instant tea, cin­na­mon and cloves.

It’s a rusty orange color when mixed with hot water (Dale always said the color reminded him of old car radi­a­tor water), but is oh, so good on a cold day, espe­cially when one is fight­ing off a cold or flu.

The win­ter our German daugh­ter, Steffi, lived with us, was also a cold one. I intro­duced her to the tea and we would enjoy it while munch­ing on German cook­ies her fam­ily sent us from Munich.

I’m a cof­fee gal now. I don’t remem­ber when or why I stopped drink­ing Russian Tea. It was prob­a­bly a mix­ture of my resolve to eat/drink health­ier and my loss of taste for most things sweet (except choco­late). But, as my holis­tic doc­tor has said to me, “Sometimes you just have to go for the com­fort foods. Go with it!”

It’s not some­thing I would drink every­day, but a cup now and then this cold win­ter will not hurt.

So, this week­end, I will buy the ingre­di­ents and also get a few lit­tle mason jars and give some Russian Tea as gifts this hol­i­day sea­son, as it does make a really nice lit­tle fam­ily present, or small gift for a friend, teacher, neigh­bor, etc.

Don’t for­get to tie a pretty rib­bon around the top and include the recipe!

Russian (also called Friendship) Tea

½ cup instant tea powder

1 cup pre-sweetened Country Time Lemonade mix

1 cup orange fla­vored Tang

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

Mix together in a large mix­ing bowl. Place in an air­tight con­tainer. Make by the cup by putting 23 tsp. of mix into a cup of boil­ing water. Will keep with­out clump­ing for 23 months. 

Have you ever had this tea? 

14 Responses to “Russian Tea is a Taste of the Past”

  1. AnneinColo says:

    I first met this tea back­pack­ing on Pike's Peak. The camp keeper at Barr Camp would make cups for folks com­ing in from the cold.

    And I think that's the key — when the weather's cold you can use some extra calo­ries to stay warm.

    A cou­ple of sub­sti­tu­tions if you're try­ing to stay away from processed foods. First both lemon­ade and orangeade are equal parts juice and gran­u­lated sweet­ener (I'm using Xylitol) mixed into water. Then the Russian guy I know makes his with brewed tea and a spoon­ful of jelly or a piece of hard candy dropped in.

  2. Barbara says:

    Wow, I was just think­ing about this tea the other day! My mom used to make it as well, though she didn't add the lemon­ade mix. We would also make up batches in mason jars to give as gifts at Christmastime.

    Thank you for the recipe! It's nice to have it avail­able again.

  3. It's amaz­ing how cer­tain foods and drinks do more than sat­isfy our taste buds, but also bring back mem­o­ries and thoughts of peo­ple we once shared them with. Very touch­ing to hear about how this sim­ple drink links you to your past with your mother and daugh­ters. Sounds deli­cious! I'm going to mix up a batch for these long win­ter days when I crave com­fort in a cup!

  4. Sheryl says:

    I've never had this. Although it's not that healthy, at least it does have some health ben­e­fits of tea. It does sound like a nice, once-in-a-while treat, though!

  5. Kim S. says:

    Oh, yes! We make a batch as the leaves turn every year. This year's batch is gone, so it's time for a sec­ond, I think. The Tang does give you a wal­lop of Vitamin C, and the cin­na­mon and cloves are won­der­ful herbs for fight­ing ill­ness, so I jus­tify all that sugar. We make ours with­out the lemon­ade mix, though.

    I found this year that our Wal-Mart no longer car­ries Tang… had to hunt it down at a family-owned gro­cery store. (Which I should've been shop­ping at any­way! Serves me right!)

    • Kerri says:

      What!? Walmart no longer car­ries Tang? That's un-American!:) Yeah, I'm pre­tend­ing the Vitamin C and cin­na­mon off­set the sugar, too. I'm get­ting every­thing for a batch this weekend.

  6. Freth says:

    Make the mix with every­thing except the tea pow­der … boil up a nice pot of Rooibos or some other herbal tea … pour a cup of tea and then add the 23 tsp. of mix. Sounds good to me!! :-)

    • Kerri says:

      Good idea, Freth. I was try­ing to fig­ure out how to make this health­ier. Conventionally grown tea has a high rate of pesticides.