Appalachia Appalachian Food Christmas

Russian Tea

Old recipe for russian tea

We put up our Christmas trees over the weekend: a big one in the living room-a small one in the girls room and 3 smaller ones in the kitchen-oh and Granny’s old ceramic one in the living room as well.

I convinced the girls to put one of my small artificial trees in their bedroom this year-so there wouldn’t be such a mess of needles. I should have known I couldn’t stop Chitter from going out to look for the perfect tree from the red clay bank behind our house.

It was just about dark when we finished with the big tree. I was hollering for her to come back and help me clean up the mess when The Deer Hunter said she was outside. I said what in the world for-he said I think she’s hunting a tree. I went out and yelled for her she said she just wanted to get one little sweet tree for the bench in the kitchen.

Almost an hour later-armed with flashlights-her and her Daddy finally found one that would work.

Once the trees were up, the girls started asking for Russian Tea.

I had never even heard of Russian Tea before I met The Deer Hunter-much less tasted it. The first Russian Tea I ever drank was made by Miss Cindy-and her recipe is still my favorite.

You need:

  • 2 quarts of water
  • 4 tea bags (2 family size)
  • half of a large can of pineapple juice (I freeze the other half for my next batch of tea)
  • 1 small can frozen orange juice 12 oz.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon (or 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 cups of sugar or a little less if you don’t like it so sweet

Use about a quart of the water to brew the tea-then add all the rest of the ingredients and heat till the sugar is dissolved. If you don’t drink it all in one day-it stores really well in the frig-and can be warmed up a cup at a time in the microwave.




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  • Reply
    December 14, 2012 at 3:03 am

    Hey ya’ll! I grew up way back in a holler in NC, now am living not to far from Russia… they don’t drink Russian Tea in Russia 🙂 well, they do, but it’s not our recipe, not by a long shot!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! My Mother used to make a similar one, and I really do like it.And we did do the Tang (I remember it, Miss Cindy) later on. They also sell a mix at that big general store (name_?) in Waynesville.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Tipper! We have enjoyed spiced tea and ciders every winter too! Russian Tea has many spices in common with those found in wassail. Thought that you might like this article on Wassailing. It includes caroling and other traditions of our ancestors at this time of year.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Ain’t never had no Russian Tea, but it sounds delicious. I do like
    regular tea with a slice of lemon.
    But to tell you the truth, I think
    Folgers would go out of business
    if something should happen to me.
    I drink my share of coffee!
    When my girls was little, we use
    to love puttin’ up a rooted tree.
    Love the smell at Christmas time.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    It has been a long time since I thought about this tea. I loved drinking it. I will just have to use your recipe and make some this week. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    December 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Miss Cindy,Tang is an instant orange drink and you can still find it. I think that the astronauts took it with them when they went into space.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Thanks Tipper and Miss Cindy for another great BP recipe! We’ll have to try some of this Russian Tea real soon. By the way, sure hope you share some pictures of your Christmas trees. They always look great!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Judging from the fuzzy picture you took, I must assume you left out the active ingredient in your recipe. Hope that youngin ain’t sipping on that same stuff.
    Miss Cindy-We still sell the 20 oz. Tang Orange here where I work. About 50 cases a week. Somebody still drinks it.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 10:26 am

    My wife makes Russian Tea all the time. It’s usually made from dry ingredients. The smell is what gets you.
    Also that photo reminds of a Renoir painting with the colors. I just know that there is also a Granny cap in there too.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I’ve never tasted Russian Tea before. I think I might have to give it a try, it sounds really good. I bet your house looks beautiful with all of the trees. You should post some pictures.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Hi, I’ve only had the Tang Russian Tea mix, so I can’t wait to try some with pineapple. Sounds delish. The story of your daughter and her daddy out with a flashlight looking for the perfect small tree is so precious.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    December 4, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Russian Tea and Christmas!
    What a lovely warm feeling,
    What a satisfying combination
    Of warmth and goodness
    Throughout December days!
    Friends coming to call,
    A hot cup of tea as the tree lights glow;
    If anything can improve this scene It’s soft-falling snow
    That fills forest and hills
    And nips the nose.
    Cherish traditions, draw them close!
    Enjoy the days while family is near.
    Wrap it all like a warm blanket about you
    And let gratitude arise to the Lord of Christmas.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I’ve never heard of Russian Tea. It does sound like a drink I would enjoy.

  • Reply
    Barbara Gantt
    December 4, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I havent thought about Russian Tea in many years. My Grandmother made up a dry mix and called it Russian Tea. Dont remember what was in it. I know it had instant sweet tea mix, tang and spices, maybe other things too, Barbara Gantt

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 8:21 am

    That sounds heavenly! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    December 4, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I love, love, love Russian Tea!
    The first time I ever had the tea was at my Aunts home in Canton. As the aroma circulated in the house, it would just about starve me to death. She would sometimes float slices of oranges in hers while it was steaming on the stove. Mom took home her recipe but I would hate for her to hear me say that hers just never did taste as good..Sure brings back the Christmas season for me.
    I like the instant spiced tea version, but there is nothing like homemade, steaming from the kitchen.
    Thanks for the memory Tipper!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 4, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Tipper–Grandpa Joe absolutely loved Russian tea (he pronounced it “Rooshian tea”) and could it hot enough to scald your hands. He’d just get a cup, “sasser” it, blow across the saucer a couple of times, and slurp away. Soon enough he’d comment along the lines of “that’s mighty fine tea.”
    Russian tea was a standard part of the Christmas season when I was a boy, and oddly enough, I mentioned it in some material I wrote for my monthly website newlsetter just a couple of days ago. Obviously, since Miss Cindy is roughly my age (I know I’m straying into dangerous territory so I’ll hasten to add she looks much younger), this was something popular in Haywood and Swain counties in the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    December 4, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Hi Tipper, I’ve made this before, but the one I make uses instant tea and Tang (I think – and sugar)You store the mix in a quart Mason jar and make you a cup whenever you like. I’ve got a jar of it in the kitchen where I made it quite a while back. It is pretty good.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 4, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Oh Tipper, now you’ve made me want Russian Tea. That really is the best recipe ever. Folks used to make an instant Russian tea from instant tea, Tang, and I’ve forgotten the other ingredients. Does anyone know what Tang is and if it still exists?
    That’s a lot of trees for one house! To say that Chitter has a stubborn streak is a bit of an understatement!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 4, 2012 at 7:16 am

    It is always interesting to see how you relate the title to the content after reading the first few lines of your story. The girls and I would make great partners at Christmas. I feel the more trees the better. The russian tea sounds like the perfect way to end a day of tree hunting

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