Red Hot Spiced Tea  


If there was one holiday treat that defined my childhood but that I myself never actually consumed until recently, it was my mother’s Red Hot Spiced Tea. She made it in large batches every winter, allowing me to pour the bag of Red Hots into the bowl, and then spooned the mixture into mason jars to give as gifts to teachers, neighbors, and friends.

Now that I’m older and less likely to shrink in fear from the tangy taste of Red Hots, I have a new relationship with this tea recipe. The drink is delicious—zesty and sharp but also warm and soothing, like the delightful sting of sitting too close to a crackling fireplace somehow contained in your mouth. Even today I recommend making it in large quantities and seeking out figures from your distant past to seek redemption through the gifting of teas. The ex you dumped in the middle of the county fair and your third-grade teacher whose gradebook you once stole can’t possibly stay mad at you when they’re tasting liquid joy. We guarantee it.

Red Hot Spiced Tea

2 (26 ounce) jars instant Tang powder (bet you didn’t think they still made this stuff)
1 (3 ounce) jar instant tea
2 packages Red Hots or other cinnamon candies
1 (6 ounce) package sweetened lemonade
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground allspice

This one couldn’t be simpler. Just dump all the ingredients into a bowl until they’re blended evenly and your whole kitchen smells like spices (try not to sneeze). Put the mixed tea into airtight containers (mason jars work well) and store, gift, or guzzle.

To serve, place 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of your tea mixture in a cup; add 1 cup boiling water, stirring well. If you’re zesty like my mom, you can add extra Red Hots to taste.

Post by Bailey James. Recipe by Kelly James. Photo from