Keeping with our “really retro” theme, we are revisiting a true holiday throwback! Russian spice tea has been a favorite in many homes during the holiday seasons for many more years than I could probably count. My mom made it, my grandmother made it and it is distinctively retro in its origin. The classic recipe calls for Tang, orange drink mix but I have many subscribers who either cannot have that or choose not to have that we are reworking the recipe into a sugar free version that anyone can enjoy! This is the perfect gift in a jar to share with friends, neighbors and family during this festive time of year!
As I mentioned, the original recipe that my mom made for many, many years contained copious amounts of orange drink mix which is full of sugar as well as sugared lemon iced tea mix, unsweetened iced tea mix and even more sugar along with spices that made this warm and inviting and dare I say, almost irresistible. My brother and I used to enjoy this treat during the holiday season, when mom would allow us to have a cup in the evenings in place of hot cocoa.
Today we have a lot of subscribers who have asked for sugar free versions of many of my hot cocoa and tea mixes so I am working on some of those. Rick and I have taken a low sugar approach to our life in the past year and have tried to use erythritol, but it does not agree with either of us so we opt for stevia. We have gotten used to the slight bitter taste overall. In this drink mix it is hardly noticeable and to me tastes as good as the original.
In place of both the orange drink powder and the lemon tea powder we are using old school, Kool Aid drink mix packets. The kind you would add sugar to yourself. You know, the kind your mom made for you and only added half the sugar? These work perfectly to flavor this tea! I have seen some other recipes that call for sugar free drink mix that is sweetened with aspartame. I personally, prefer to avoid that so opted for this route.
I am using unsweetened iced tea powder. This is readily available in most grocery stores and Lipton and Nestea both offer their versions. Either is fine. In my estimation they are both the same and I have used both at different times over the years. So you can use what you can find.
This is spiced with cinnamon and clove. You can feel free to add or take away what you like, but this is the classic version. I think some allspice or even some cardamon would be a lovely addition here. You can choose to add more if you like, but remember they are strong spices and they do not dissolve. They will leave a silt in the bottom of the cup. Adding too much spice can be unpleasant.
Mix everything up in a big bowl and whisk together for a while to incorporate. You can put the entire batch into a quart jar with a tight fitting lid or divide between smaller vessels or bags for gift giving throughout the holiday season! This would be welcomed when given in a festive mug or even in a disposable pastry bag or cellophane bag tied with a cute ribbon and bow. Include some in a gift basket or care package for loved ones far from home. It is sure to be enjoyed by everyone!
I hope that this sugar free version helps those of you who have requested it. I hope you give this a try and I hope you love it!
Happy Eating and Happy Holidays!
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