Russian Tea with Natural Options!

Hot, sweet & flavored with orange, lemon, cinnamon & cloves, Russian Tea makes a warming & restorative winter beverage. AKA Friendship Tea. Hot, sweet & flavored with orange, lemon, cinnamon, cloves, Russian Tea makes a warming & restorative winter beverage. AKA Friendship Tea.

It’s a drink I remember fondly.  Brought by a friend and poured from a thermos after a cold winter ballet class, it was amazingly restorative following the brutal workout! 

I’ve thought about the drink over the years and my one hesitation in making it now was the ingredient list. With Tang orange drink plus lemonade mix, it was both high in sugar and far from natural. In my teens, I could handle it, with a heavy dance schedule and youth on my side.  Hot, sweet & flavored with orange, lemon, cinnamon, cloves, Russian Tea makes a warming & restorative winter beverage. AKA Friendship Tea.

Now, fighting middle-aged spread, not so much.

So, I gave it a makeover with options you can pick depending on your specific dietary goals. Where there’s a will there’s a way! 

Russian Tea Ingredients and Options

The original recipe had two ingredients that were of more concern.The first, Tang Orange Drink, lists the following ingredients: SUGAR, FRUCTOSE, CITRIC ACID (PROVIDES TARTNESS), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF NATURAL FLAVOR, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), MALTODEXTRIN, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, GUAR AND XANTHAN GUMS (PROVIDE BODY), SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6, BHA (TO HELP PROTECT FLAVOR).

The mix, once dubbed “the drink of the astronauts,” was still “modern” in the mid-70s when I drank this. But now I ended up using some Tangerine juice powder plus a Monkfruit/Erythritol sweetener that measures like sugar. Sugar or other sweeteners would also work instead of the Monksfruit–or nothing, though the sweetener also works counter some bitterness in the juice powder. 

Now as a heads up, the tangerine juice powder doesn’t fully dissolve in the hot water. But the beautiful orange flavor was still there, either by partly dissolving or steeping. I ignored a very small amount of residue left, like ignoring the cocoa that sinks to the mug bottom. But the final taste was just as I remembered 

The next ingredient on my swap list was the lemonade mix. Here, I just went with diet Crystal Light to reduce the calories. But I am almost certain that a substitution of powdered lemon juice plus more sweetener or sugar would work effectively like the tangerine powder.

How to Make Russian Tea

Russian Tea is super easy to make and my recipe will make about 12 large cups of tea. You start by mixing the dry ingredients, then stir or cover and shake to mix well.

To prepare a serving, mix a Tablespoon of mix with about 12 ounces of boiling water, or to taste.

Let steep/cool for a minute for best flavor—and to reduce risk of hot water injury! Then enjoy!

As near as I can figure my final drink has about 20 calories (sugar versions will be higher).  I consider that a wonderful outcome!

Hot, sweet & flavored with orange, lemon, cinnamon, cloves, Russian Tea makes a warming & restorative winter beverage. AKA Friendship Tea.

Hot, sweet & flavored with orange, lemon, cinnamon, cloves, Russian Tea makes a warming & restorative winter beverage. AKA Friendship Tea.

Russian Tea with Natural Options

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Hot, sweet & flavored with orange, lemon, cinnamon, cloves, Russian Tea makes a warming & restorative winter beverage. AKA Friendship Tea.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup unsweetened instant tea
  • 1/3 cup tangerine powder plus 3 Tablespoons sweetener (or 1/2 cup Tang)
  • 2 mini packets Crystal Light (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves

Instructions

To prepare tea mix, combine all ingredients and shake or stir to mix well. Store covered.

To prepare one serving place 1 Tablespoon mix (see note) in a mug and top with 8-12 ounces of boiling water. Let sit for a couple minutes to steep and cool slightly, then enjoy.

Notes

Alternatives to Crystal Light include: enough of a sugared lemonade mix to make 1 quart; or a 2-3 Tablespoons lemon powder mixed with sweetener to taste.

If you use a low volume sugar substitute like stevia, you may use slightly less than 1 Tablespoon to make a mug of tea. If you use full sugar lemonade mix, you may use slightly more than 1 Tablespoon to make a mug. But in the end, feel free to mix per your own taste!

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 20
 

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