warming drinks to spice you up this winter

Original image of cup of latté from here
It's winter, and who doesn't appreciate a Warm Me Up drink. As a fan of deep exotic spices whether in the scents I wear, the curries I cook or the potions I concoct for a devilishly delightful drink, spices are purrfect for warming one up, especially in the chilly cold. Who needs the heater for that extra boost of heat ;)


Spiced Chai is one of my favourite drinks that I drink throughout the year, often whenever I pop into any AMT or basically anywhere that might offer it. Sure, potent black tea might be my staple beverage-- the stronger, the better-- but, who really wants one of those not-very-well-brewed ones for more than £2 when you're out at some café when that same amount can get you a 120-bag extra-strong one at M&S. Most commercial outlets, however, tend to make spiced chai a little too sweet for my liking, and I do miss the Chai I used to get at this Indian supermarket next to my college back at Cambridge. So when I found a box of Drink Me Spiced Chai at Tesco, I was rather pleased. Except that for a proper mug of Chai, you need about seven tablespoons at a go, and must top it up with more cinnamon powder, which means a box lasts you about a week. Still better than a £2.50 per paper cup, I know. But, last week, I lingered around a little too long at the World Food Section (bad mistake, then your groceries start costing you an eye-popping £100 and people around start to look at your full trolley and give you strange smiles whilst you pretend you have a hungry family at home) and then I saw it! Palanquin Spiced Tea. It was a buy-one-get-one deal. 80 tea bags for £1.85? No harm trying. Excitedly, I picked up a bottle of condensed milk (why are they so expensive here? More so than fresh cream!) and that evening after dinner, I nervously made a cup of tea, wondering if it would deliver. I.e. manifest the sort of spiced tea I crave for in my synaethesia-c states of food delirium. The answer? Wow. Spiced Chai is basically black tea with ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and clove, and according to Ayurveda, is revitalising and calming. You can read more here for more of its properties, whilst your guide to making a cup of spicy, steaming chai awaits. . 

  • Brew a bag of Palanquin spiced tea in boiling water for about five minutes. Cover it with a lid to ensure the flavours steep more strongly. 
  • Add in about two tablespoons of condensed milk. Top up with fresh cream, whisk for some froth, and a dust a sprinkling of cinnamon powder on top.
  • Serve in gorgeous china. The one above is Royal Albert Heirloom-- something I've been craving for, for ages.

So basically, every one of these recipes involves ginger-- one hell of a tuber that packs a punch. Spicy with a zing, its pale yellow flesh is juicy and adds a fiery punch to many Asian dishes without being overpowering. My grandmother used to cook many dishes with ginger, and amongst my favourites was sliced ginger with fried fish sauteed in a dark and sweet soya sauce-based gravy; whilst alot of Peranakan curries that I love incorporate ginger as a key ingredient in the 'rempah' or paste. Commonly used also in folk medicine to treat nausea, windy stomachs and a host of other illnesses, the 'heat' emanating from ginger indeed warms one up. Ginger is my favourite spice, hands down, and I remember being extremely happy visiting Buderim Ginger Factory in Sunshine Coast, Australia. The entire array of ginger products was indeed exciting, and today ginger candies are a great Anytime Treat for me. This recipe for ginger tea, is a common one in Malaysia and Indonesia, a tasty delight to soothe bloated stomachs. I cannot remember whether it was my mother (who was Malaysian originally; Malaysia and Singapore share a border) or my maids (from Indonesia) who introduced it to me, but nevertheless, I was sold on it and we'd brew large pots regularly. Ginger tea, therefore, reminds me of home. All you require is a kettle, some pandan leaves and gula melaka to sweeten. Gula melaka, otherwise known as palm sugar, is found in brown chunks, used in wicked toppings for ice kachang and chendol, or as an awesome candy on its own. Pandan leaves add fragrance and body, and is used in traditional Straits Asian desserts by tying two or three leaves together and left to boil in the pot; it also doubles up as a natural cockroach repellent-- ideal for leaving in your crockery cupboards, with the added benefit of having deliciously-scented plates and bowls. Ginger tea is also served in Asian spas for their detoxifying properties.

  • Deskin one large fist-sized piece of ginger and slice into chunks of medium thickness. Add to boiling water in a kettle or a pot.
  • Tie about 2-3 leaves of pandan into a knot and boil together
  • Chop a 3cm-long chunk of gula melaka into smaller pieces to sweeten.
  • Boil for at least half an hour. Makes one large pot-- about ten portions.
  • To your Ginger Base, you can easily brew a bag of black tea for Teh Halia (see below).
  • Makes a great refreshing drink when chilled too!
Alternatively, you can make a quick ginger base by buying instant ginger tea. A family friend from India strangely bought me two boxes of Jahe Wangi ginger tea a few years back during his trip to Indonesia, without even knowing I love ginger. That was a pleasant surprise, and, what was even better was that the instant mix delivered! It is basically a blend of root ginger, sugar and some Indonesian herbs, and is fiendishly warming-- one of the best instant mixes of anything I've ever tasted. Nevertheless, I got more boxes when I went over to Bintan, and was completely psyched to find a stockist in Singapore.

You can order it here, and to make Teh Halia-- a ginger-based tea latté-- all you have to do is steep in a bag of black tea, topped up with some milk and/or cream. And, Teh Halia is fabulous with Indian food! Imagine sitting down in an open-air food complex in South East Asia feasting on pratas, murtabaks, roti johns, and chilli crabs in the tropical heat whilst gulping down fiery ginger tea latté. Sometimes I miss home just for the food itself!


This is my very own Devilishly Dark Chocolate potion, as a girl who loves her chocolates as dark as possible, slurping them up warm and molten. Green & Blacks makes a pretty good hot cocoa mix to cheat, if you cannot be bothered to painstakingly melt your chocolate on your own-- might turn out to be quite expensive after all if you do that! Spices chosen here were the orange zest-- orange and chocolate go hand-in-hand, in my book--, star aniseed for its warm, liquorish flavour, and ginger slices for the burst of spice.

  •  To about half a cup of warm milk (or mixed with fresh double cream) over a low fire in a bowl, add in two teaspoons of crushed star aniseeds, about five teaspoons of raw sugar, a little clear honey (Eucalyptus honey would be divine here!) and finely-sliced ginger from a chunk about 3cm-long. Keep stirring.
  • Grate in some orange zest. Melt in as much of your favourite dark chocolate as you'd like to spare. Stir as though concocting a magic potion for ten to fifteen minutes. Cover from time to time to let it all steep.
  • Add about two large tablespoons of Green & Blacks cocoa powder and whisk till slightly frothy. 
  • Garnish with some orange zest shavings, grated dark chocolate (white would be great too), and a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg powder. And why not, use a stick of cinnamon as a swizzle stick or magic wand and chant 'Abacadabra' or your favourite incantation. Makes two large mugs.


Do share your favourite Winter Warming Recipes or your favourite spicy drinks. Better still if they involve shots of spirits! x


  1. I love spiced chai-I have my own concoction I make at home with some tea from Teavanna and a powder to sweeten from trader joes. Dying to try the others; am bookmarking this page!
    Thanks so much!

  2. Oh I absolutely love chai tea. Chai tea latte is like dessert!

  3. whhheww, thanks for sharing. this offers me an idea. :D

  4. Mm, mm, I love a good warm and creamy Chai for a freezing day!

  5. Ginger!!!
    Thanks for sharing such fab warming recipes!! It's coming into summer here,but I'm gonna bookmark these!
    me,I like a Whisky Mac in cold weather.That's green ginger wine and whisky,whatever qtys of each to taste!!!
    xxxstay snuggly you sexy thing!

  6. There's a little chai wallah I know in Tamil Nadu who serves the most wonderful cinnamon and ginger chai on the beach, you had me right back there. xxx

  7. I drink chai, but without condensed milk as I don't usually like milk in my tea. Am I missing out?

    Need to try the ginger with pandan, I guess I just go to Chinatown to find some leaves.

    You always make me hungry for Indonesian food - impossible to find in London. I don't know if you have been to Amsterdam, but they have lots. I went there once for Christmas and we had Indonesian for xmas dinner, it was wonderful!

  8. This sounds great. I started making my own chai, but this sounds yummy.

  9. Yum, all of these look delicious, but sadly my current detox diet restricts ALL of them! :( I did, however, want to let you know a recipe for authentic chai the way my family makes it - you don't need a specialised teabag for this and you can adjust the spices to your taste! :)

    Get a pestle & mortar ready. Grind up: a cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a few cardamom pods, and maybe one or two black peppercorns. Get a saucepan ready with a mug of water and a mug of milk (this is for one cup of tea. If you want to make more, double the proportions, but make sure it's half water, half milk). Whole milk works best! Pour the ground up spices into the saucepan and add a plain teabag (one per person) or a teaspoon of loose-leaf black tea per person. Let it cook on high heat till it boils, take it off the heat, put it back on, let it boil again. Bring it to the boil 2-3 times - the more you do it, the thicker/spicier the tea will be. Strain into a teacup, add sugar and enjoy! It seems like a lot of effort but only takes about 5 minutes! :)


  10. Deliciousssssssssssssssssssssssss.
    Un abrazo guapaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
    Any chance of getting rid of the WORD VERIFICATION, ufffffffffffffffff such a time waster, please, please!!!!

  11. Those all sound delicious! I love chai, but I'm too lazy to brew anything myself. Occasionally I grab a chai latte at Starbucks. It's so yummy.

    ♥ V
    twitter: @gritandglamour

  12. I'm always so amazed at how they do latte art. it's soo cool! and if they screw up then the whole thing is screwed! pretty <3

  13. Luscious ideas! I have some chai teabags, Celstial Seasonings brand, but they can be a bit weak. You've inspired me to steep more than one, and to cover whilst steeping. I might also pick up some condensed milk at the grocery store today.

    I always like classic stovetop cocoa. A large mugful of milk warmed with about 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, about 3 tablespoons of sugar (I'll sometimes do half white sugar, half dark brown sugar for richness), a dash of salt, and a splash of vanilla extract. If I'm due for a cocktail, I'll stir in a slug of whiskey, rum, or brandy. Change up the extracts and liquors as desired. Orange, mint, coffee, coconut...

  14. yum! i love hot drinks! =)


  15. Wow. these look yummy!

    When I was home we use to take dried mint from our garden and sugar and make tea. Then we would make it cold. (it is good both ways, but for some reason I love it cold!)

    I am following you now btw. :)

  16. Bbrrrrrrrrrrrr! So cold! I certainly need one of those!!

  17. Ooh such great ideas! Definitely more original than Starbucks's holiday lattes (my go-to warm-me-up drink lately has been the caramel brulee latte).

  18. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. i've been scouring google for some cozy and yummy recipes to no avail, but thanks to you i have a few new drinks to try!

    sincerely, M

  19. I love Hot Chocolate ,but cant really have due to my migraines..my mom makes "chanpurrado"is a chocolate-based atole, a warm and thick Mexican drink, based on masa (hominy flour), piloncillo, water or milk and occasionally containing cinnamon, anise seed and or vanilla bean (tasting somewhat like a thick masala chai)

  20. amazing post i love your blog! my favourite tea is yogi liquorice tea, its lovely, you can get it in tescos or waitrose and its amazing!

  21. I love spiced tea, i'm definitely going to have to seek these out and try them!

    Chic on the Cheap

  22. @SucceedingatFailing-- That's on my Groceries List now!

    @LaDama, sounds divine! I must look for a recipe x

    @Gangster: I love to do that too. In fact you've just inspired me to do a post on Leafy Drinks

    @Sarah-- Classic cocoa with shots of liquor sounds divine. .

    @Simply- Thank you! Glad you found this useful :)

    @Leia: THANK YOU! Must try it soon


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