cranberry tea

Cranberry tea

29 November 2012

There was something familiar about the ruby, warming cranberry tea my little brother made for Thanksgiving. As I sipped it, I could picture it being made – fresh cranberries simmering in water with cinnamon sticks, cloves, orange and lemon juice. For an instant I imagined I’d developed magical culinary insight. My brother looked at me blankly and said “I got the recipe from you – you made it for Thanksgiving a few years ago.” Right. Welcome to the aging brain.

Add to the long list of reasons why I love my little brother, who like many little brothers is triumphantly the biggest in the family: his memory is 10 years fresher than mine. Add to the long list of reasons why I love this blog: it gives me a place to store useful knowledge before my overloaded mommy brain shoves it out to oblivion.

Sweet, fruity and spicy, cranberry tea was popular with both adults and kids at Thanksgiving. I’m giving it an official place in my holiday lineup. It’s a novel way to make use of extra cranberries, and its spices and ruby color make it a festive drink for winter parties. I love a hot drink in cold months, and this fruit tea gives warmth without caffeine (and now I really sound like an old lady).

Super simple to make: cranberries and water, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves.

Simmer for a half hour. The cinnamon and cloves make a delectable steam.

Isn’t this a cheerful color?

Orange and lemon juices add more flavor and depth to the drink. Add sugar to taste.

I like it hot, like real Chinese grandmas, but it’s also refreshing cold.

Cranberry Tea
This rosy spiced drink, made from fresh cranberries, makes a cheerful and warming holiday beverage. Caffeine-free too. Adapted from


  • 3 1/2 quarts water (14 cups)
  • 1 12-ounce package cranberries (3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 lemons, juiced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar (or sweeten to taste, see note below)
  • Additional cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)


  1. Wash cranberries and put in a large pot with water, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Add orange juice and lemon juice. Sweeten to taste. Strain out cranberries if you like. Serve hot or cold.


  • One cup of sugar makes a drink sweet enough for my kids. The original recipe calls for two cups, which is syrupy. This recipe results in about 18 grams of sugar per cup (8 ounce) serving, about a tablespoon per serving. For comparison, commercial sodas have about 24 grams of sugar per cup, and cranberry juice cocktail has 30 grams per cup.
  • Commercial orange and/or lemon juice will work if you don’t have fresh.
  • Double the spices if you like a stronger spice taste.

Here the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Yuen 29 November 2012 at 6:27 pm



rebecca 29 November 2012 at 6:34 pm

Oh, I am so glad that I’m not the only one who has forgotten about past recipes. I’ve baked and posted a chocolate chip espresso cookie, then baked another one (different recipe source), and not remembered until a friend asked me which one I liked better! Haha!

I will definitely be making this cranberry tea for cookie exchange party this weekend. It looks fantastic (I’m sure it must smell great too.)


cg 1 December 2012 at 12:59 am

hi rebecca, thanks for making me feel better! hope you enjoy the cranberry tea.


Gail 21 December 2012 at 8:02 am

Finally subscribing to your blog. That tea is delicious. Thanks for posting the recipe! I will definitely make it.


cg 26 December 2012 at 10:08 am

hi gail – great to see you, and i’m happy you like the tea! glad to know my email updates will find their way to you. =)


Nance 28 December 2012 at 8:53 am

Entire family loved it as I served with dessert last night. Thank you. You know skimpy I am about sugar, so the gals in the family drank without (pucker up!) and the guys with! Yum!!


cg 28 December 2012 at 9:16 am

hi nance – the girls are definitely the tough ones in your family! so glad you all enjoyed it.


Lindt lady 26 October 2016 at 4:57 pm

I cut this recipe in half and strained it. Sooo warm and delicious! I raked some leaves on this chilly fall day and this tasty concoction was perfect. Serve it hot in a crystal Irish coffee mug.


cg 2 November 2016 at 11:03 am

hi lindt lady – ahh, so beautiful in a crystal mug! glad you enjoyed it, such a fantastic cold weather treat.


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