As the days shorten and turn grey, brightly coloured food becomes a rarity rather than a standard, especially because late autumn and winter foods are so often beige or darker tones. This cranberry tea is special in its vivid red, almost pink, shade.
I’ve been making this for years – clearly, since the recipe was first shared five years ago – and it’s an antioxidant rich treat at this time of year. Make a batch in the morning and drink it throughout the day, or refrigerate and heat it up as needed over the course of a few days. It’s just as good cold, though definitely less cozy.
This is right up there with my dairy free hot chocolate for favourite cold-weather drinks, apart from other winter fruit teas. In fact, if you like fruit tea (often hibiscus and rose hip based) you’ll probably like this recipe.
Ginger and orange pair perfectly with cranberries, and I like using honey to sweeten for its soothing properties in the season of cold and flu, but you can sub maple syrup for a vegan option. The original recipe calls for rose hips but I’ve made it optional in this updated version because they can be a bit tricky to find.
The ginger is quite strong and it ends up being a vibrant, spicy tea, but you can mess around with the quantities to suit your taste. I used to use lemons but find orange a bit sweeter and more pleasant with the cranberries.
Fresh, Frozen, or Dried Cranberries?
I usually use fresh, and so only make it a few months of the year. That’s mostly because my freezer these days is the size of a postage stamp. Frozen cranberries work just as well.
Dried are okay, though not as good, and you’ll end up with more of an orange ginger tea than a cranberry tea. It’ll still taste good but won’t be as strong of a cranberry flavour. Dried cranberries are almost always sweetened so you should taste before adding the honey to see how much you need.
It seems like everyone ends up with an extra pack of cranberries lurking in the fridge at this time of year at some point, and you can only make so much cranberry sauce, so put them to use in tea!
How to make fresh cranberry tea
Well, it’s not boiling a kettle and adding a tea bag, sorry. Water, the cranberries, ginger, orange juice, and orange peels are simmered for about 15 minutes. After simmering, the tea steeps for another ten minutes, then the honey (or maple syrup) is mixed in and you can serve. It’s not much, really, and you can easily double the batch if you want to make more at one time.
If you just have orange juice on hand and no oranges, no worries, just add the juice. It’ll still taste good without the peel and – bonus – then you don’t have to juice the oranges.
To make it more festive, add some spices to the blend – cinnamon sticks, whole cardamom, cloves, star anise, whatever you like. Either way, this will make your house smell great. You can also add a tea bag during the steeping time, like rose hip or another complementary fruit based variety.
Is it healthy?
As far as a sweetened tea goes, I guess it is, though I wouldn’t have it every day because it’s a good bit of honey. I really only make it if I’m feeling quite depressed or coming down with a cold. I usually go for unsweetened fruit tea on a daily basis, which is just more exciting water, really.
You might think that this is helpful for UTIs, but I’m here to tell you that’s very unlikely. One, there’s debate about whether cranberry juice actually helps, and two, adding any sweetener voids any benefit it may have. It is a liquid, though, and hydration is always good, right?
So in terms of a sore throat, or a mild cold, it’s not a bad idea to have a batch of cranberry tea for the health bit. That goes for just about any tea really. But it’s a nice drink to have if you want something bright, both in colour and flavour, and makes very good use of in-season cranberries.
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Cranberry Ginger Tea
- 1 litre water
- 100 grams fresh or frozen cranberries
- 60 ml orange juice from 2-3 oranges
- Orange peels from juicing oranges
- 2 thumbs fresh ginger cut into 1 cm pieces
- 20 grams dried rose hips (optional)
- 60 ml honey or maple syrup to taste
- In a large pot, combine the water, cranberries, orange juice, orange peels, ginger, and rose hips (if using).
- Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the honey or maple syrup, then turn the heat off and let it steep for a further 10 minutes. Strain and serve hot or cold.
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This post was originally published in December 2014. It has been updated with new photos and changes to the recipe and content as of October 2019.