My mom used to make what she called “Friendship tea” to give to my teachers as gifts. Therefore I tend to think of it this time of year, even though this year most kids said goodbye to their teachers several weeks ago. It also makes a good Christmas gift!

This recipe is also known as Russian tea, according to the interwebs, although this guy says it is absolutely not Russian.

Today, it wouldn’t be considered the healthiest tea in the world, as the recipes are all typically some blend of sugary drinks with incredibly processed instant tea. There are hundreds of variations of the recipe. All contain instant tea, though sometimes it is instant tea with lemon. All of the recipes include Tang (the powdered orange drink), and a bit of ground cinnamon and cloves, and some white sugar. Some recipes add instant lemonade powder in, or cinnamon red hots, and some even add apricot gelatin powder. The measurements and proportions are also widely variable.

The oldest version of the recipe that I could find was from an Indiana newspaper printed in 1968. It was referred to as a delicious “new” drink. Here it is:

2 cups Tang (orange flavored drink mix)
1 1/2 cups white sugar (the newspaper wrote “less if you like”)
3/4 cup instant tea (the granulated black tea, unsweetened, such as Lipton)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup powdered sweetened lemonade mix (such as Country Time)**
 
Mix all ingredients well and store in an airtight container, such as a glass jar. When ready to serve, mix it well again (the ingredients tend to settle and separate), and then measure out 2 heaping teaspoons per cup of boiling water.
 
**Note regarding the lemonade mix. The original 1968 recipe called for a “3 oz package lemonade mix such as Wyler’s.” I had to look up what that was. Back at that time, Wyler’s sold a lemonade mix that contained sugar. A 3 oz package would have been between 6-7 tablespoons of dry mix, which is actually a little more than 1/3 cup.
 
Enjoy this vintage recipe!
 
If you are making it for a gift, you could package it in a mason jar as pictured, or just measure some into a plastic bag and present in a mug.
 

(Image credit: Rachel Schumacher)

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