*Photo Credit: Nathan Anderson
Here is a collection of cozy teas that you can enjoy with your family and friends on Christmas Eve.
Traditional Irish Tea
In Ireland, tea is the most important beverage in every household. Although black tea with milk and sugar might not sound so special, the ritual of preparing a “proper cup” in Ireland is special indeed.
- The tea must be loose leaf Black tea. Irish Breakfast is the preferred variety; it’s a blend of Assam and Ceylon, blended to satisfy the Irish taste for strong, bold tea.
- The tea must be prepared in a warm teapot. For those of you who are new to this particular preparation, you partially fill a teapot with boiling water, and swirl it around to completely warm the pot. When the teapot is sufficiently warm, discard the water, and your pot is ready.
- Place the tea leaves into the teapot. Use a teaspoon of tea for every cup of water.
- Fill the pot with hot water that has just barely come to a boil. If you let the water heat to a rolling boil, it has boiled too long, and the tea will have a flat taste.
- Let the tea steep 3 to 4 minutes.
- Before pouring the tea into your cup, fill your cup 1/4 to 1/3 with milk (dairy is traditional, but non-dairy is fine).
- Pour in your tea, stir it well, and sweeten to taste.
Enjoy your perfectly brewed Irish cup of tea! For a uniquely Gaelic mood, check out this Scottish Christmas ballad.
Sweet Dreams Tea for Two
There’s nothing more cozy than a cup of warm chamomile tea. I used to make this sweet and creamy version for my kids when they were little.
Brew 2 heaping teaspoons of chamomile in 16 ounces hot water for 5 minutes. Strain, and stir in 1 to 3 spoonfuls of raw honey, until honey is dissolved. Fill your favorite mugs with 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy) and fill the rest of the mug with honey-sweetened chamomile tea. Curl up under a cozy blanket and enjoy!
The tradition of wassailing is an old ritual from Great Britain. Villagers would gather together in the apple orchard on the twelfth night of Christmas, and sing songs as a way of ensuring the health of the apple trees for the coming year. The singing was believed to appease the tree spirits and scare away evil that would cause blight and illness and interfere with future harvests. They would offer cups of mulled cider, or pieces of bread soaked in cider to the oldest of the apple trees.
Wassail was originally made of mead, and later, spiced cider, and people would drink the wassail from a large communal bowl.
Today the wassail can be served in a punch bowl, and enjoyed at holiday gatherings with friends and family.
Below is a tasty modern recipe that uses Chai rather than individual spices for a modern twist. Cranberries are a New World addition, and the pineapple juice is a tropical ingredient that wouldn’t have been included in the Old English wassail bowl. This recipe is loaded with vitamin C, and spices that warm you up from the inside out.
- 1 gallon cranberry apple juice
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1.5 cups pineapple juice
- ½ cup raw honey (optional)
- 1 cup Naked Chai
- 1/2 cup Cranberry Apple Tart
- 1 organic orange, sliced thinly in rounds
- 1/2 cup fresh organic cranberries
- 2” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
Put all of the ingredients together in a large stainless steel pot with a lid and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Serve hot in mugs with fresh orange slices as a garnish.
Check out this traditional English wassailing song:
Wishing you and yours a cozy Christmas Eve!