Every year about this time, tea businesses start to pick up as spicy beverages signal the start of the holiday season that seems to last for months. Tastes turn from iced to hot, even though 80% of tea in the U.S. is consumed iced. Now is the time to have your best and most creative spicy teas, herbals, and specialty beverages ready and waiting for customers who are going to be looking for and requesting them.
Fruits and spices together are especially wonderful: pumpkin, cranberry, pears, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves all warming and comforting. These flavors have a quality of bringing back memories for me of holidays past, family gatherings, old movies and, if you’re a country person, things like hayrides and long walks in the woods.
There are a few classic specialty beverages I really look forward to as Fall moves toward Winter. Hot chai lattes, hot spicy cider, and a really rich, dark hot chocolate with whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top. When we had our store, these were our most popular choices for this time of year. There were popular variations as well. Ones I really loved were the coconut chai latte and peppermint hot chocolate. As for the cider, we bought ours from a small farm in the Northeast that sold a cider concentrate. It was absolutely amazing..spicy and rich. For hot chocolate, we did a very dark, thick chocolate sauce in steamed milk with lots of whipped cream. I know pumpkin chai is a classic but if you haven’t had coconut chai, give it a shot, or try a shot of coconut syrup substituted for one of the pumpkin flavor.
People also seem to calm down in Fall, to slow down slightly and start getting into the “holiday spirit”. This time of year, one of our best sellers, even now on the website, is a black tea with cinnamon and orange oil and real orange rind, slightly sweet from the cinnamon oil. I usually hate oil in my teas, but bergamot oil in Earl Grey and a few of the light essential citrus oils are exceptions. This orange spice tea is also amazing iced, but sipped piping hot on a chilly night as an accompaniment to a good book…perfect. It’s a wonderful choice for getting into a more mellow mindset.
There are also wonderful baked good accompaniments tea houses can add this time of year. We always loved pumpkin cheesecake, gingerbread, cranberry muffins, molasses cookies, and even the quintessential cinnamon rolls seem yummier when served with spicy drinks.
All alone at home last night, I brewed myself a big mug of Orange Cinnamon Spice tea and it just felt so right. It’s been a long, hot summer and I’m ready to shift gears. Welcome, Fall!