Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere means that the food and drinks that are offered at Christmas time may be a little different to our Northern Hemisphere counterparts. Baking is my exception to that, but there are certainly particular foods that are just so much more appropriate for a hot-climate Christmas.
Mulled wine would be one of those things. At the Christmas markets in Europe, there will always be hot mulled wine and Kinderpunch, the non-alcoholic version, available to drink. When everyone is rugged up in heavy jackets and beanies, with snow on the ground, dark at 5pm with the streets lined with Christmas lights, a spiced hot drink is just what is needed. But for a Southern-Hemisphere Christmas, where its hot, there is a much better solution.
I created this iced tea recipe that still incorporates the flavours of orange and spice, and brought in some refreshing flavour that is called for on a hot day. The orange slices can be dried out in the oven yourself in advance.
Christmas Iced Tea Recipe
There are no specific quantities for this recipe, as it can be varied to suit your taste and preferences. I broke up the cinnamon sticks and Allspice pods in a mortar and pessel, but you could also put them in a thermomix or blender so its roughly chopped.
To dehydrate the orange slices, place a cooling rack over a baking tray and arrange the orange slices on the cooling rack. Place in an oven at 100 degrees for a few hours. Depending on how thick your orange slices are, this may take between 2-4 hours. They should be fairly crunchy and crisp once they have cooled down.
- About one and a half cups loose hibiscus
- 2 cinnamon sticks broken up
- About 10 whole Allspice pods, broken up
- About 5 whole cloves
- About 1/4 cup of dehydrated ginger pieces (often sold at bulk wholefood stores)
- 2 oranges, sliced and dehydrated, and broken up
Combine all the ingredients together in a large air tight jar. To make up the tea, I used 1/4 cup of tea to two cups water. Although you can pour hot water over the tea, all the real flavours will be amplified if you cook the water with the tea mixture for 10 minutes, allow it to cool before straining it. If you are using the cooked method, add another cup of water. For something more special, you can add sparking apple juice, cranberry juice or pomegranate juice, which certainly creates some refreshing "Wow" for your Christmas lunch.
Integrate flavours that you and your family are familiar with and create a new tradition. It may take some trial and error to get your own blend right. Draw on your own family traditions. Making a really inviting non-alcoholic drink can be a welcome change if your main meal has already been served with alcohol, especially when some guests need to drive to other places or home. You may want to serve it at lunch as an alternative, or or you might want to save it for later in the evening with leftovers. Traditions always take a few times to get right, so try again until something sticks. Your guests and family will tell you if they want you to make it again for next year!