Makes 1 gallon
Brew the tea — about 8 teaspoons of loose leaves or 8 tea bags to 1/2 gallon of water — and let it steep, then strain the leaves or remove the tea bags. If you are making this for an evening gathering, you may want to use a decaffeinated tea. This recipe can be prepared in advance and gently reheated before serving, although the flavor of the mulling spices will become much stronger over time and may need to be diluted with a little more cider or tea before serving.
• 1/2 gallon fresh apple cider
• 1/2 gallon Earl Grey tea or other flavorful black tea
• 1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, to taste
• Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
• 1 generous teaspoon allspice berries
• 1 vanilla bean
• 1 orange
• 1 teaspoon whole cloves
In a large nonreactive pot, combine cider, tea and 1⁄3 cup maple syrup. Place over medium heat and add cinnamon sticks and allspice berries. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and then crosswise and add it to the cider.
Meanwhile, scrub orange and stick cloves into the peel. Slice orange in half lengthwise and cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Add orange slices to cider, bring to a simmer and cook, barely simmering, for about 10 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add a little more maple syrup, if desired.
Remove from heat, cover and let sit for about 15 minutes. Stir, remove spices with a spoon if desired and ladle into cups. Serve warm, but not too hot.
Adapted from Not Just Desserts: Sweet Herbal Recipes by Susan Belsinger, 2005. See our Bookshelf to order. Susan Belsinger is a culinary herbalist who loves playing with food. She delights in kitchen alchemy — the blending of harmonious seasonal foods, herbs and spices.
For the main article, Savor a Sumptuous Celebration, click here.