Low Calorie Summer Beverages: Iced Russian Tea

I have never been an iced tea lover.  Forced into trying it–through thirst or politeness–it seemed either cloyingly sweet or tongue-bitingly bitter.  But in my quest for alternatives to Diet Coke, iced teas are simply too big to ignore.  Even better, tea has been linked to a number of health benefits from delivering a healthy dose of antioxidants to possible cardiovascular and diabetes benefits (source: Wikipedia). 

 And there was one sweet, flavored tea that I used to love. 

Many years ago, I carpooled to ballet class with another neighborhood student.  On cold winter nights, she sometimes packed a thermos of hot “Russian Tea” for the home trek. Sweet and orangey, it warmed our souls then infused life back into our weary bodies. 

 The original drink was made with Lipton tea powder and Tang Instant Breakfast Drink.  Since I have never found instant organic tea—much less instant organic Tang (!), I decided to do my own natural version, iced for summer.  Why shouldn’t delicious low calorie drinks be part of my natural healthy diet?!  Here is the recipe:

Iced Russian Tea                          

Ingredients  (5 8 oz servings) 

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T loose tea (or 2 teabags)
  • 1 c orange juice


 1.  Put water, spices and sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about a minute.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.

2.  Add 1 T loose tea.  Cover pan and let steep about 5 minutes.

Add Tea to Steep

Add Tea to Steep

3.  Strain.  Refrigerate until cool.

4.  Add orange juice.

Add OJ to Tea

Add OJ to Tea

5.  Serve over ice (perhaps with a slice of fruit??) 

Iced Russian Tea

Iced Russian Tea

This could be steeped in a teapot, but I wanted to do a version that would work with basic kitchen supplies.  Although slightly higher in calories than my recent lemonade, this comes in under 50 calories/serving and could be made lower by using stevia instead of sugar.  

Do you have a favorite natural iced tea?

18 thoughts on “Low Calorie Summer Beverages: Iced Russian Tea

  1. lifecoachabby

    Yum. That sounds great. I love a good tea. I have been making some that is a green tea base with a splashe of fresh orange juice, a bit of mint leaves, ginger, and honey!

  2. Louise

    Iced Russian Tea is sounding mighty good about now. I just came in from checking out the garden, and a bit of weeding, and boy oh boy, it’s still hot out there!!!

    Thanks for sharing this Inger…

    P.S. You took ballet classes? How cool…

    1. Inger Wilkerson

      Cooler weather should be heading east; it’s frigid here… I actually re-started ballet this spring and am finally past the completely creaky phase (now just moderately creaky). I should probably blog about it some time; I am having SO MUCH fun!

    1. Inger Wilkerson

      You know that’s an interesting comparison. Some versions of the original hot, made-from-powder recipes do have lemonade mix as one of the ingredients. Hope you enjoy!

  3. Emily

    What kind of tea did you use? I may try this, if I can find the ingredients…or just make it up as I go, and try not to burn the house down.

  4. Kathy S

    This looks so refreshing, and what a great alternative to diet soda…I am currently trying to kick the habit myself, but chugging water all day long can be a bit boring. Tea seems like a great way to get a natural boost, and I’m definitely going to try this recipe soon!

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