One of my favorite moments on cold mornings is when I pour my cup of hot tea to start the day. Preparing the water, choosing a mug, and selecting my flavor is settling, calming, and my boys have started to participate in the tradition. We each choose a tea bag and steep it in hot water for a few minutes while preparing breakfast, then enjoy the fragrant vapors as we let the tea cool just enough to keep from burning our mouths as we take a first sip.
My collection of teas takes up more shelf space than it probably should. My enjoyment of tea began as a child, and became a passion when living and traveling abroad. I grew up only knowing one kind of tea, then began drinking herbal teas in college, and later tasted my first oolong and Pu-erh teas in Hong Kong. In Colombia I purchased the local herbal teas, and my favorite was yerbabuena. In Istanbul, I sipped my first apple tea while negotiating rug prices.
But my ultimate tea experience was the Japanese tea ceremony, one on one, with students who were studying the Urasenke tradition of chado, The Way of Tea. The ceremony was led by SEN Soshitsu XV, a fifteenth-generation Grand Master who shared with us the teachings and ideals of chado: Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility. It was a beautiful way to experience a piece of Japanese culture, and truly unforgettable. And each time I sip a cup of tea, I feel as if I am bringing part of that experience to my day.
The tea I grew up with was black, the common type found in tea bags in the supermarket. I remember reading the package and wondering what orange pekoe meant, and I just assumed it was the type of tea. Many years later I learned orange pekoe refers to the grade of the tea, mostly for teas from Sri Lanka, India, and countries other than China. There are about 30 different grades of tea in four categories (whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, dust) and some jargon used to describe the consistency of the leaf.
That common black orange pekoe tea forms the base of this cranberry-infused mixture. Look for loose leaf tea, but you can used bagged tea, too. Combine all the ingredients in a pot on the stove and simmer, then let it rest. Your home will fill with the scent of tea and cranberries, making a welcoming aroma to share with family and friends during the holidays. The flavor is full and on the tart side, but you can add a couple drops of stevia to your cup if desired. For more orange flavor, substitute the juice of one orange for some of the water.
[Update: Thanks to Foodista for featuring this post as Drink Blog of the Day for December 8, 2014!]
Hot Cranberry Tea
- 3-quart heavy stainless steel saucepan
- fine mesh strainer
- heat-resistant large liquid measuring cup
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 3 tablespoons raw sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange pekoe tea leaves
- 2 orange peel (3 x 1-inch strips )
- 4¼ cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- Combine the cranberries, sugar, orange pekoe tea, and orange rind strips in the stainless steel saucepan. Add water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. Strain the mixture over the liquid measuring cup, and discard the solids. Serve hot.
More Festive Holiday Drinks
More Festive Tea Drinks From Other Blogs
- Farm Fresh Feasts – Slow Cooker Apple Chai
- Maebells – Cranberry Pineapple Spice Tea
- Three Little Halves – Caramelized Slivovitz (Serbian Tea)
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