Instant Russian Tea with Tang

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Instant Russian Tea recipe with Tang is an old holiday favorite that’s the perfect inexpensive hot drink for the holidays!

Christmas mugs with hot Russian tea

The slightly sweet smell of an evergreen tree. Christmas tree lights twinkling in a dimly lit room.

Strains of beautiful music from Point of Grace A Christmas Story CD.

Sound perfect? I think so! The one day that stands out in all our family traditions is Thanksgiving Day.

Two Christmas mugs of orange tea

Since our children were little the day began with me putting the burly turkey in the oven before anyone opened their eyes.

Everyone awakened to the smell of turkey wafting through the house and the countdown to Thanksgiving Day parades.

From our family meal of turkey and all the fixin’s to hunting down the perfect tree at the Christmas tree lot, this day is one to cherish for all of us.

Instant Russian Tea is a tasty part of this tradition as well. This hot beverage is one our  family always enjoys on Thanksgiving night as we decorate the Christmas tree.

We love to drink the tea all winter but the first batch gets made just before Thanksgiving.

One Christmas mug with orange tea

Why is it called Russian Tea?

 Russian Tea has very little to do with Russia and a lot to do with Southern creativity. The tea takes its name from the black tea with lemon and sugar that was the preferred beverage of upper-class Russians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Eventually it became a Southern staple, handed down in church cookbooks over the years.

What is Russian Tea made with?

A 1966 edition of the Statesville (North Carolina) Record and Landmark included a recipe that swapped loose black tea for instant and the oranges for the recently invented powdered orange drink, Tang, along with sugar and spice. Tang eventually printed its own recipe for the drink.

A piece of cake and a cup of Instant Russian Tea with Tang

What kind of tea is used in Russian Tea?

For my recipe you can use any kind of tea powder but I use instant tea with or without sugar. If you like it sweet go with the type with sugar. If not go sugar free!

Is Tang still available?

Some readers have asked if Tang is still available. The answer is yes but if you can’t find it at your favorite store you can order it here on Amazon.

I have used some generic orange drink mixes but each store varied and I learned I prefer the original Tang.

A tray of food with a Christmas mug of  Russian tea


  • Note of caution: Do not try and use whole cloves to save money by crushing them yourselves. Picking bits of cloves out of your tea is not fun. Not that I would know about that ~eye roll~
  • If you don’t have Kool-Aid try using the single lemonade drink mixes.
  • If you use sweetened iced tea add less sugar to the Russian tea mix.
  • The tea hardens in the container over time but I love to drink it through the cold winters!
  • You can try substituting a generic store brand orange drink mix but I’ve had mixed results with this.
  • Try adding a teaspoon ground allspice to the instant beverage mix.

How to store Instant Russian Tea.

Sometimes if I’m lazy I just pour as much of the dry mix as I can back into the Tang container. I also have a specific glass Christmas jar that I’ve used through the years. An airtight container is preferred for this spiced tea mix.

Giving this recipe to friends and family.

This tea makes a great gift idea for teachers at school and church as well as for a special friendship. A mason jar is a good choice, wrapped in a pretty ribbon or used with these Christmas mason jar labels or with this merry and bright label. If you don’t have a mason jar use any large jar and maybe even add some cinnamon sticks with a ribbon for the perfect treats.


Ingredients for making Instant Russian Tea

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Instant orange drink (Tang)
Unsweetened lemonade-flavor drink powder
Unsweetened instant tea mix
White sugar
Ground cloves
Ground cinnamon

See the recipe card for quantities.


Pour Tang into large bowl.

Pouring Tang into large metal bowl

Add lemonade mix to bowl.

Adding lemonade mix to large metal bowl

Add instant tea.

Adding powdered instant tea to metal bowl mixture

Pour in white sugar.

Adding sugar to metal bowl dry mix

Add teaspoon ground cloves.

adding ground cloves to metal bowl

Add two teaspoon ground cinnamon to the tea mixture.

adding ground cinnamon to metal bowl mixture

Mix everything together.

Mixing together ingredients for Instant Russian Tea

When ready to serve stir as many teaspoons as you’d like into a mug of boiling water.

It’s totally up to your preference but I like the drink to be thick and not so watery.

Add Instant Russian Tea to Christmas mug

When ready to serve pour boiling water over mixture in your favorite mug.

Pour hot water out of Christmas tea pot into mug for Russian Tea

Feel free to let the tea steep as long as you want and enjoy your Christmas time treat!

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4.80 from 5 votes

Russian Tea Recipe with Tang

Instant Russian Tea recipe with Tang is an old holiday favorite that's the perfect inexpensive hot drink for the holidays!
Course Beverage
Keyword Instant Russian Tea
Author Marty’s Musings


  • 1 lb. jar instant orange drink Tang
  • 1 pkg. unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened instant tea
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon


  • Mix all ingredients well and store in tightly closed container.
  • Add to hot water as many teaspoons as desired to taste.



I used sweetened instant tea and cut back on the amount of sugar added to compensate. I also used 4 single instant lemonade packets instead of kool-aid.
Ingredients and final picture for Instant Russian Tea with Tang

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  1. 5 stars
    I have not made in years and one my favorite recipes my mom would make during the holidays and colder months to keep us healthy. Making it this weekend to help my family overcome feeling under the weather!

  2. I made this for years. It is yummy now it is too much sugar. I need to revisit this sugar free. Thank you for showing an old favorite. We lived on a milary base in MO maybe MI when I was first introduced to this. In the late 70s or early 80s.

  3. Mom and I made this Russian Tea for years…we used Lipton Instant Ice Tea mix with lemon instead of the packets or koolaid…..not sure if lipton makes that instant tea with lemon anymore…as this was back in the late 60’s and 70’s

    1. Hi, Sandra. We use generic instant iced tea with lemon as well when we can find it. Not sure if Lipton makes it anymore either. I’m sure you have great memories from those years as do I!

      1. Lipton Lipton lemon iced tea (sweetened) is what my grandmother used as well and they still sell it in Minnesota year round.

  4. I’ve made this before and shared a canister with a friend who was ill – he said it got him through the flu! A lovely addition to Throwback Thursday!

  5. 5 stars
    Wow this sounds so yummy! I think I have all of the ingredients to make this! I will have to try this! Thank you for sharing!

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