Whether served hot in the winter or cold in summer, this Ukrainian-style ginger tea with lemon, mint and cloves is sure to make you smile. Add a dollop of honey for extra goodness.
It was a cold January day in the Ukraine when my group ventured into a very modern brewery restaurant. But beer was not on my agenda. After having been out in the cold shooting photos for a couple of hours, I wanted to warm the cockles of my heart, so to speak. It wasn’t going to hurt if I could wrap my chilled fingers around a cup filled with warming goodness.
Then I saw a pot of something in front of a colleague who had arrived a bit earlier: “Hey,” I said, from the other end of the table, “what IS that?” The concoction was steaming and through the glass teapot I could see mint and other spices floating in a dense lemony-looking liquid. Ginger tea, I was told. So I ordered it. And let me tell you this was WAY beyond your run-of-the-mill ginger tea.
It had a spicy ginger flavor – but not too sharp – complemented by lemon with a hint of mint and cloves. I added my own dollop of honey. And I drank the whole pot – YUM!
I dreamed of that tea for weeks afterward and finally tried to recreate it. Recreating this yummy ginger tea with lemon, mint and cloves was not an easy task. Partly because the freshness of the ginger and herbs as well as how you grate, chop or muddle them affects the flavor so much. That is perhaps a good thing since you can personalize it to your own tastes: Add more ginger or grate finer for more ginger flavor. Add less lemon or more mint to minimize or bring out that flavor. Even consider cinnamon sticks, allspice, or star of anise for a different touch. Not a honey fan? Sugar will be your addition – IF you want it sweet at all.
My next job is to make a larger pot and then chill it for a great summery drink!
Here is the recipe I came up with. Remember, the freshness of the ingredients will have a lot to do with their strength in your end result. Try this version, and then add or subtract to adapt to your preferences. And don’t be afraid to let it steep for a bit! We found that sometimes the second cup after 15 or 20 minutes was better than the first, having a richer flavor.
Making Ukrainian-style ginger tea with lemon, mint and cloves
Recipe is for one regular sized teapot or about 3 cups of water
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