Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hot Spiced Tea (Is there balm in Gilead?)

Tell me truly, I implore.  *snort* Now that I've taken two lines from Edgar A. Poe's The Raven and planted them into your minds, let me tell y'all, this is the kind of kind nepenthe that will have you quaffing more. 

Eh.  It must be the antibiotic making crazy talk, dragging lines hesitantly forward from a fragmented memory not thought of for a long while.  I really was going to start with Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman's epic duet of the beautiful folk song "There Is a Balm in Gilead" 'cause that's what hot spiced tea reminds me of, something to make the wounded whole and heal the sinsick soul.  Not that a sinus infection qualifies as a wound or sinsick  (now there's an argument just waiting to happen concerning Original Sin and the appearance of less than perfection i.e. illnesses {don't get me started -- antibiotics, remember??}) but hot spiced tea makes the minor nastiness that it is feel all better.  Lots better.  I'm having a cup of it now and am feeling immensely better.  I might be using exclamation marks by the end of the post.

I looked and looked in the local church cookbooks for the recipe.  I broke out my favorite cookbook of all, the Mississippi Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from home economics teachers and the extension service.  You can tell it's my favorite, it's all to pieces and held together with a rubber band.

It wasn't in any of them.  I looked online and the closest I found was for Hot Russian (spiced) Tea.  But that wasn't quite it either.  I'm thinking it's one of those recipes that Mrs. Mary Sue was called for and wrote (written?) down on the back of an envelope.  I'm pretty sure that envelope is in the bottom of the **shudder** junk drawer.  Y'all have one -- don't deny it.  It's that one drawer in the house that, if not careful, will begin to expand to an entire cabinet or chest of drawers or room.  It's either there or stuck between the pages of a cookbook I don't use often that I swore to myself I'd remember.  I didn't.  I don't know where the recipe is for hot spiced tea made with the fresh fruit juices so I put one together.
The oranges tonight are tangelos.  The local
FFA fellows and gurls sell boxes of Florida
fruit for their big fundraiser.  Despite the cold
early last year and the dry weather through 
the summer, the citrus coming out of
Florida is exceptional this year!

There's a lot of fruit juices added to the recipe.  You can see where I started with three family sized teabags, scratched out four and finishing with five.  It will take a strong tea to carry the flavors.  The cloves measured out are more than a tablespoon.  They're more than two tablespoons but not quite three. 
 I love my old Peter Pan Peanut Butter jar
that has been home to cinnamon sticks
for well over 20 years.

I'll be truthful -- I didn't measure them at all.  The Fellows and I enjoy the clove flavor in this so I measured a palm-full.  A palm full... Not everybody likes cloves that much, though, so a tablespoon is a good amount to start.  Tweak it like you like. 

Those ingredients are:
Five family sized tea bags.  I like Luzianne.  Mama likes Lipton. It's a house divided.
Three cinnamon sticks
One tablespoon whole cloves
One large can pineapple juice
Three cups sugar.  This is not too much sugar -- the recipe makes almost two gallons!
Three quarts of water, boiling
Juice of six medium large lemons
Juice of 12 oranges.

Okay!  Here we go.

Fruit juices react with metal.  Use a big porcelain pot with at least an eight quart capacity.  I made this once in the stock pot.  Eewwwwwww... Not good.  That taste of metal like eating a bite of pie with a spoon out of the aluminum pie pan entirely ruined the tea. 

To the boiling water add teabags, cinnamon, and cloves.  Let steep for at least 15 minutes.

Juice oranges and lemons while waiting.
There're cakes covered up under those 
flour sack dish cloths.

The Fellows don't like pulp.  I strain it out.

Pretend you're seeing lemons instead of oranges in that last photo.  

When the dinger dings add all fruit juices and sugar to the pot of steeped tea.
I don't even have any more Kentucky eggnog 
and the photo is blurry.  I'm going to say it's
the antibiotics this time.  

I bring it back to the boil just long enough to assure the sugar is dissolved and that the whole of it is piping hot.  I also let it stay refrigerated in the pot with the spices overnight to develop flavors more, storing in jugs in the refrigerator sans spices the next day. 

Have a cup!  Join me while I cut cardboard for cakes, won't you??

This makes almost two gallons of spiced tea, a perfect amount for an open house, small church function, or to store in the refrigerator until your fellows get home.  It will keep for several weeks there.  I've not ever frozen it, but I bet it'd freeze well also -- there's nothing in it to not freeze well.

Y'all don't forget to keep a hat or hood on your head;  Mama's right about body heat escaping from there.  And if the head cold or sinus infection develops, make this tea.  All that vitamin C and tea flavonoids are good for what ail you, cinnamon for aching joints and cloves are a traditional antiseptic and respiratory aid.  I promise!!!  See how much better I'm feeling?  All those exclamation marks... Hot spiced tea ROCKS!!!

1 comment:

  1. Mary, I know the cold is long gone but I felt your stopped up nose. This post was written on my birthday last year. I love tea and this is one I will be making.
    I love you.