Holiday flavored tea can create a mood, conjure memories, and enhance a celebration. Because of this, it makes a perfect gift—to yourself or someone else.
Do holidays have flavors? Can you taste Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice...December?
Abso-fill-my-cup-lutely! Some holiday flavors have cultural roots, but others are created by us, individually, according to our tastes and traditions. So whether you’re a December holiday enthusiast, rebel, denier, or reinventor, I propose the following holiday flavored teas as candidates for special gifts and celebrations to be enjoyed by you or sent as thoughtful gifts for others.
I cannot overstate my love of December and the holidays celebrated during this month. I grew up loving Christmas, later mourned the loss of childhood traditions, and ultimately embraced the power to create my own December celebrations.
This year, I’m consciously celebrating December from November 1 through January 31. You see, I have some catching up to do. Travel in recent years forced even my non-traditional celebrations to take a backseat—or, more accurately, hitch a ride elsewhere.
Whether you love December holidays, despise them, mourn the loss of holidays past, or were hitherto unaware that December contained any significant holiday, please join me on this exploration of holiday flavored teas. I’m pretty sure I have some you’ll love!
The Obvious Holiday Flavored Tea: Sugar Plum
“The children were nestled, all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.”
That famous line penned by Clement Moore, along with the Nutcracker’s Sugarplum Fairy firmly plants this tea in the Holiday Flavors category. Sometimes a name alone can qualify a flavor as a Holiday treat. But what in Camellia sinensis is a sugar plum?
Turns out, a sugar plum is a comfit.
Um, what’s a comfit?
A comfit is perhaps the world’s oldest candy. It is a seed, nut, or bit of spice encased in a many-layered, hard-sugar coating. Think: a tiny coriander seed laboriously coated in many layers of sugar to produce a tiny bead of candy. Or think: a sliver of dried ginger, similarly coated. A Jordan Almond.
Now think: nonpareils, today’s seed-, nut-, spice-less sprinkles, and you’ll get an idea of the itty-bitty size, the tedious and time-consuming pre-industrial process to create them, and I trust you’ll agree that sugar plums are celebration-worthy.
The variety of flavors encompassed by the name “sugar plum” gives our tea maker loads of leeway, and he knocks this one out of the park, keeping the spice theme while adding some actual plum. When I unzip the Sugar Plum tea packet and inhale the fragrant blend, visions of holiday-scented candles dance in my head.
Cookie in a Cup: Cookie-Flavored Dessert Tea
What’s any celebration without baked goods? Whatever you celebrate in December, is there a baked good that conjures happy thoughts? Can you find one or more of those flavors in a tea blend?
From childhood, I’ve been an enthusiastic cookie baker, decorator, and eater. Sadly, dietary requirements have altered some recipes and quantities, but I find I can make up for cookie subtractions with tea additions. Caramel Snickerdoodle tea, anyone?
But don’t stop there. Cookie teas are a Plum Deluxe specialty. How about some gluten-free, fat-free Buttery Shortbread herbal tea, or Vanilla Sugar Cookie herbal dessert tea? Oooo, or have you tried my beloved Toasted Nut Brulee oolong tea? Caramel, butter, vanilla, and nuts are all holiday flavors found in cookies—and Plum Deluxe teas!
If you know someone who’s had to give up holiday treats, these cookie teas make a superb gift. Try typing your favorite cookie flavors into the search box and see what returns. You might discover a tea that hasn’t yet caught your attention, or you might unearth a tantalizing recipe.
A Twist on Holiday Favorite: Mint Teas
Peppermint + Christmas = Candy Canes, no?
Candy canes may not be as old as comfits, but they're hundreds of years old. The earliest candy canes were straight sticks flavored only with sugar. Legend has it that in the 17th century a choirmaster at a cathedral in Germany bent the candy to look like a shepherd's staff. The red stripes and peppermint flavor didn't appear until the 20th century.
I’ve never been a fan of candy canes or those red-and-white-striped disks Pizza Hut used to give out along with the bill, but peppermint tea? Yes, please! And White Chocolate Peppermint herbal tea? Even better!
If you or your giftee are mad for mint, you could fill a whole stocking with holiday flavored merry-mint.
Citrus Surprise: Chocolate Orange
Are there any other Christmas stocking hanger-uppers out there who received an orange in the toe of said stocking on Christmas morning?
For years, I was confused by the tradition because I hated oranges. Surely Santa knew that. Then I learned the story of Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, surreptitiously tossing gold coins through the window of three poor sisters, some of which landed in the toe of a stocking drying by the fire. Some people say that oranges represent the gold in that story.
I came around to holiday-orange flavor when it was combined with chocolate in a ball that split into tidy wedges when slammed on the table. Brunch in Paris black tea blend nails this chocolate-orange flavor, making it a perfect holiday flavored tea.
Outside-the-Box Holiday Flavored Tea: Rosemary
It can be hard for a sweet-tooth like me to venture beyond the sweet end of the Holiday Flavor spectrum, but I’m oh-so-glad I did. Savory flavors combine splendidly with sweet flavors, as in Chocolate Rosemary Caramel herbal tea.
Of course! Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves. An evergreen with needle-like leaves? Does that ring a bell? Anyone? Rosemary is yet another perfect holiday flavor and scent.
For a truly out-of-the-box holiday flavored tea, try Meadow Walk herbal tea. This is the one for a holiday rebel inclined to skip traditional holidays or make up a new one. Go, you!
A Reason to Celebrate in December
If December holidays aren’t your thing, or you’re skipping holidays this year—or worse, if December holidays make you feel sad and lonely—then I propose taking a holiday from the holidays. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. It can be liberating, peaceful, something to...well, it can be something to celebrate. What do you say we put the kettle on and celebrate not celebrating with a tasty cup of holiday flavored tea?