The Inspired Cook

Does your family have traditions that you follow? Passing on family traditions helps to bond the generations together, creating an intense closeness and a depth of understanding unlike any other.

Recently, my sister Beckie and I sat around reminiscing about our childhood during the early 1960s. Some of our fondest recollections focused on events involving our great-aunt Clara.

Of all of these events, one still holds a special place in our hearts and our minds: her tea parties. On myriad occasions, she prepared little impromptu tea parties for us.

During these times, she always gave us a choice of her homemade hot Russian tea or hot chocolate topped with miniature marshmallows to drink. She served our hot beverages—they were merely lukewarm so as not to burn our mouths—in a vintage china demitasse tea set accompanied by cake, cookies, or some other sweet treat.

In the course of these intimate get-togethers, Clara would give us etiquette lessons on how to act as a proper Southern lady. One thing I specifically remember is her insisting that we raise our pinky fingers whenever we drank from those tiny teacups, which perfectly fit our dainty little girl hands.

Now that Beckie and I have been blessed with grandchildren, we thought that they would enjoy tea parties, too. Since she inherited Clara’s china tea set, all we needed were recipes for her hot chocolate and tea.

We were in luck as I had both of Clara’s recipes. But where were they was the million-dollar question!

My mission now was to locate them as I have four recipe-card boxes crammed full of recipes. Don’t tell anyone, but I have hoarded away three boxes stuffed with recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers! Can you relate?

Speaking of stockpiling recipes, I have accumulated thousands of pins on Pinterest, most of which are recipes. So, if you love collecting recipes as much as I obviously do, then follow me. My account name is Hattie Kirkwood Kemp.

Anyway, I finally located Clara’s recipes. Since her tea recipe listed a popular orange-flavored breakfast drink, an ingredient I didn’t want to use, I created my own recipe instead.

Today, I’m sharing my recipe for hot Russian tea mix inspired by my aunt’s recipe. During the fall and winter months, I keep a canister of it to enjoy whenever I want.

It’s amazing to me how I can sit down with a hot cup of tea and be transported back in time to one of those sweet little tea parties. Thanks for the memories, Clara!

Hot Russian Tea Mix


3 c. sugar

3/4 c. instant tea

2 (0.23-oz.) pkts. orange-flavored Kool-Aid drink mix

2 (o.23-oz.) pkts. lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid drink mix

1 t. ground cloves

1 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. ground cardamom


Into a large mixing bowl, place all of the ingredients, whisking well to combine. Place the mix into an airtight contain to store.

To prepare the tea, place 2 heaping teaspoons or more if you like of the mix into a cup. Add 6 to 8 ounces of boiling water and stir until the mix is dissolved.

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