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Variation on a Classic Wassail

December 28, 1986

Apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg are blended with freshly brewed tea and crab apple syrup in this variation of the traditional holiday wassail. For your New Year's Eve or New Year's Day party ladle the piping-hot punch into mugs and garnish with spiced apples and whole cinnamon sticks.

Blend in brandy for a spirited version. Serve with an assortment of cheese and crackers to visiting friends or before a holiday dinner. MULLED TEA PUNCH

1 quart boiling water

6 tea bags

3 cups apple juice

1 (1-pound) jar whole spiced crab apples

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cinnamon sticks

Pour boiling water over tea bags. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.

Heat apple juice, syrup drained from crab apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in saucepan. Simmer 2 minutes to blend flavors. Combine with tea.

Garnish each tea serving with crab apple and cinnamon stick. Makes 2 quarts.

Variation: For spirited version, after removing tea bags, stir in 1 cup brandy.

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