Daily Archives: April 9, 2016

Mulled Wine Recipes for Christmas

Mulled wine for many people is a drink inextricably linked with the Christmas season. It comprises a number of flavorsome and scented spices, particularly cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. It is a popular drink at German Christmas markets but is very quick and easy to make at home. This article features three recipes for making homemade mulled wine, all in quantities designed to serve four people. Why not try serving it to your Christmas guests as they arrive, both to help ward off the Winter chill and provide a delicious taste of the season?

Glasses of many different types, cups and even mugs are all perfect for serving mulled wine. You may, however, wish to try and pick up some Christmas designed mugs at a local store, or even online, to add that little final touch of authenticity to your creation.

It is best to use a fairly medium bodied red when making mulled wine. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot are both excellent choices.  

Golden rum mulled wine ingredients

1 bottle of red wine
½ cup brown sugar
1 whole orange
10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tsp grated ginger root
½ cup golden rum

Method

Wash the orange but do not peel it. Stick the cloves in to the orange at regular intervals, as you would pins in a pincushion. Add all the ingredients except the rum to a large saucepan and put on a medium heat until the liquid only just begins to simmer. It is imperative not to let it boil. Reduce the heat to maintain the gentlest of simmers for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the orange and cinnamon sticks. Add the rum and stir. Transfer to glasses or mugs and serve immediately.

Brandy mulled wine ingredients

1 bottle of red wine
½ cup orange blossom honey
Peel and juice of one fresh lemon
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup brandy

Method

Carefully grate the peel from the lemon, ensuring not to incorporate any of the bitter white pith. Halve the peeled lemon and squeeze out the juice in to your saucepan. Add the remainder of the ingredients bar the brandy and heat as before, remembering to achieve only a gentle simmer for the quarter hour and not a boil.

Strain the mulled wine in this instance in to a clean bowl before adding the brandy and stir prior to service.

Schnapps mulled wine ingredients

1 bottle of red wine
1 orange
½ cup superfine sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup authentic German schnapps

Method

Wash the orange and slice a quarter inch off the top and bottom, discarding what will be pieces comprised largely of pith. Slice the remaining orange to a quarter inch thickness and add to a saucepan with all other ingredients except the schnapps. Bring to the gentlest of simmers for fifteen minutes before removing from the heat and stirring in the schnapps. Serve with a slice or two of orange in each mug or glass.

Whatever recipe you choose and use for preparing mulled wine, it is important to taste it prior to service, as you would with any food dish. This allows you to amend the seasoning as required. You may wish to add more spice, or achieve less spiciness by adding more wine, or to simply get a slightly greater kick with the careful addition of a little more spirit.

The Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea

Kombucha Tea, what is it?  Why drink it?  What does it do for you?  Basically, it is a sweetened black or green tea or cider with a fermented culture, bacteria and yeast from the Kombucha mushroom.  The fungus is a pancake type of structure that forms on top of the tea like a mushroom cap, not actually a mushroom.  It’s full of immune-boosting anti-oxidants and is wonderful for detoxifying the body.  Common names for this are: Kargasok tea, Manchurian tea, and tea fungus.

Kombucha tea, used in East Asia in the Tsin dynasty, 221 B.C. and brought to Japan from Korea and eventually found its’ way to Germany and Russia around the 19th century, was promoted as an immune-boosting tea that would strengthen the body to help fight off disease.  It can be grown easily in the United States and has become very popular with the victims of cancer, HIV, aids and the elderly who take advantage of its age-reversing effects.

Although there have not been any formal studies, most of the evidence of Kombucha’s health benefits have come from the personal testimonies of its’ users.  Kombucha is helpful for a host of conditions such as: baldness and hair loss, insomnia, improving skin conditions, promoting good bowel bacteria, for arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, the prevention of heart attacks, for stabilizing blood pressure and blood glucose levels, softening veins, stimulating glands, helping with digestion, the circulatory system, cleansing the gall bladder, for intestinal disorders, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and many types of cancers. It can improve liver function and aid with digestion.

Kombucha tea can boost the immune system and possibly even reverse some of the aging process. Kombucha tea contains many antioxidants, which can help to block the action of free radicals; activated oxygen molecules that can damage cells.  

There is considerable evidence to suggest that the tea can improve the body’s defenses by detoxifying and enhancing the immune system.  The tea is believed to help repair and balance the body and to fight off disease.

It is not without its negative effects, however, some report side effects like stomach upset, allergic reactions, possibly to molds in the tea, severe acidosis or an increase of the acid levels in the bodily fluids that included high levels of lactic acid and occasional jaundice related to liver damage.  so it should not be used if you are allergic to lactose.  So far, there have been about 2 cases of heart-related difficulties resulting in only 1 death, but there was no evidence to support that it was caused by the use of Kombucha.  Like Digitalis or Foxglove, a little can help the heart and a lot may kill you, so be very careful with its’ use.

After the fermentation process is complete, Kombucha tea may be highly acidic and contains ethyl acetate, alcohol, acetic acid, and lactate.  If you are allergic or intolerant of any of these, you should not use Kombucha tea.

It is not recommended that you use fruit juices in which to ferment Kombucha cultures because they are already acidic and this can cause toxic levels of acid to build up in your system.

Never drink excessive amounts of the tea; especially because it is medicinal.  If you take a vitamin supplement, be certain to keep a check on your body fluids to see that you are not getting an overdose or a toxic level of nutrients that are included in Kombucha teas.

Never brew your Kombucha tea in lead crystal, ceramic, or any painted or glazed containers; the acidity of the tea can cause it to absorb a number of harmful elements from such containers. Lead poisoning can occur when brewed in a ceramic pot where there is lead.   

Women who are breastfeeding should not use Kombucha tea.  People with various medical conditions or whom are on medication should consult their physicians before using Kombucha tea.

If you choose to use Kombucha tea for any ailment, you can purchase cultures at a number of online websites, get them from someone that you know who is using the tea or grow your own cultures.  Some cultures are very expensive to purchase, as are some of the ready-made drinks containing Kombucha.

Recently, Whole Foods, pulled all Kombucha tea from their shelves because of the alcohol content, but there are many other versions that can be purchased, ready-made.

Growing and brewing your own, can help to ensure that you are getting a pure and safe drink.  Because it is fermented, there may be some alcohol content, but it should not be harmful if you are not on any medications or have certain ailments.  Check with your physician before using any medicinal culture or herb in order to ensure further safety.

You do not want any hazardous interactions to occur as a result of Kombucha’s use if you can avoid them.  Safety should always be your priority, with any medications, natural or otherwise.

Sources:

http://www.kombucha.org/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kombucha-tea/AN01658

http://www.anahatabalance.com/teakombucha2.html

http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/craftzine-kombucha-tea-184/