The distinctive and familiar flavor and aroma of cloves – a robust and warming spice with a wintry association – is widely enjoyed all across the globe. From curries to cakes to pumpkin spice lattes, cloves find their way into a wide array of treats. Cloves are also used for their medicinal value, which includes anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and numbing properties. Clove tea has long been used as a remedy for toothache, and many people drink it just because they enjoy the taste. Making clove tea at home is very easy to do using ground cloves, your favorite kind of tea and hot water. You can enjoy it hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened, with milk or without. There are also countless variations to consider.
Home-Brewed Clove Tea
Total Time: 10 minutes | Prep Time: 3 minutes | Serves: 2
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tea bag, e.g., black, ginger, rooibos, chai, mint, hibiscus
- 16 ounces water
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- In a small saucepan or electric kettle, bring the water to a full boil, and then turn off the heat.
- Add the ground cloves to the saucepan and stir. If you used an electric kettle, add the ground cloves to a teapot or other heatproof container (e.g., a Pyrex measuring cup) and pour in the boiling water.
- Let the cloves steep in the hot water for approximately 5 minutes, and then add the tea bag.
- Leave the tea to steep in the hot water for 1 to 2 minutes more, stirring once or twice.
- Pour the clove tea through a strainer into two cups and serve hot, optionally with milk and/or a sweetener.
- Alternatively, pour the hot clove tea into a pitcher and place it in the refrigerator to cool before enjoying the tea cold.
For the most potent and freshest clove flavor, grind whole cloves immediately before making the tea. You can use a spice grinder or pestle and mortar to do this.
For a stronger or weaker clove flavor, simply use a little more or less of the ground cloves. Or, if your clove tea is too strong, dilute it with additional water.
Clove Tea Variations
Milky clove tea: Add a splash of milk, milk alternative, or, for a really rich and creamy clove tea, condensed milk to your tea.
Sweet clove tea: If you like your tea sweet, add a little sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup or another favorite sweetener to taste.
More spices: Many other spices complement the flavor of cloves, so consider infusing your tea with additional spices. Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice and mace are all natural companions to cloves.
Citrus and clove tea: Citrus flavors go very nicely with cloves too. You could squeeze a little lemon, lime or grapefruit juice into hot or cold clove tea, or, for a stronger citrus flavor, steep some strips of citrus rind in the hot water along with the ground cloves.
Clove coffee: Use pre-brewed clove tea in a French press coffee maker to brew clove-infused coffee. You might then put an interesting twist on affogato by pouring hot clove coffee over a scoop or two of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
Coconut clove tea: Try steeping ground cloves and, optionally, other spices in light coconut milk. Bring the milk just to the simmering point before turning off the heat, and let the spices steep for up to 20 minutes. Skip the tea bag for this version of clove tea.
Clove-turmeric tea or latte: A health food favorite drink, turmeric tea can take on the compatible flavor of cloves if you use clove tea in place of water to brew it. Most recipes blend ground turmeric, a touch of ground black pepper and, sometimes, other spices with water to form a paste, which is then diluted with hot water or milk. For a clove-turmeric tea, simply use hot clove tea instead of hot water. For a clove-turmeric latte, use extra strong clove tea and dilute the drink with hot milk.
Hot toddy: This classic warm, wintertime whisky cocktail is a great vehicle for clove tea. It usually includes Scotch whisky, lemon juice, honey and hot water. Substitute clove tea for the hot water.
Party punch: A delicious, spice-infused punch blends cold clove tea with the fruit juices and/or sodas of your choice. Consider equal parts orange juice, clove tea and lemon-lime soda, or clove tea with apple juice and ginger ale. Add fresh fruit slices and lots of ice. You might also make a boozy version of this party punch by adding wine or liquor.
Hot cider with cloves: Prepare a clove tea-enriched hot cider that’s perfect for warm nights. Replace the water in the plain clove tea recipe with apple cider, omit the tea bag and gently simmer the cider instead of boiling it. Nice additions include cinnamon sticks, ginger, cranberry juice, lemon slices and honey.
Mulled wine: For a clove-rich twist on mulled wine, a Yuletide treat popular in Northern Europe, warm up red wine, clove tea, citrus rinds and cinnamon sticks. Some recipes include orange juice or cranberry juice.
Clove cocktails: Cold or hot clove tea makes an interesting mixer for a variety of adult cocktails. Warming spirits like apple brandy, Scotch whisky, bourbon and spiced rum all blend nicely with clove tea. A dash of bitters adds even more complexity to these kinds of drinks.
Spiced sangria: Use clove tea as one of the main ingredients in sangria to put a spicy twist on the Spanish classic. Mix together red, white or rose wine, strong clove tea, fresh fruit slices, fruit juice and a little orange liqueur. Chill for an hour or two before serving.
Poached fruit: For a healthy dessert with the flavor of cloves, poach whole, peeled apples or pears in clove tea with some sugar or honey. Serve the poached fruits warm with a touch of cream, ice cream or Greek yogurt. The poached fruit also makes a nice topping for oatmeal and cottage cheese.
Soups and stews: For a touch of clove flavor in savory soups and stews, substitute a portion of the water or stock called for with clove tea.
Joanne Thomas has worked as a writer and editor for print and online publications since 2004. As a specialist in all things food and drink, she has penned pieces for Livestrong, Robert Mondavi and Modern Mom, among other names. She found her first jobs in a series of kitchens before moving on to celebrate food via the written word. Thomas resides in California and holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of Bristol, U.K.