From the February 2008 Issue of Java with Jennifer
Contributed by Becky Williams, correspondent assistant.


Wassail- There’s a very good reason that this warm winter drink has been popular throughout
much of British history. This savory cider-like drink has claimed fame in Christmas carols, as well as English folk literature like Beowolf and the classic plays of Shakespeare.

The name Wassail originated from “ves heil” (Old Norse) which translates into Old English as “was hál.” The phrase, eventually merged into “wassail,” means “be in good health.”

Perhaps I’m a bit biased after fifteen years of enjoying wassail, but I must say, drinking a mug of wassail in honor of a friend’s health is an annual tradition worth keeping. Wassail!

Williams’ family’s traditional recipe:

  • 1 quart Hot Tea
  • 1 quart Apple Juice
  • 1 quart Cranberry Juice
  • 2 cup Orange Juice
  • 3/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • 20-30 Whole Cloves
  • 3-4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • (1/2-1 cup sugar if desired)

Directions: Boil the water in a large pan and steep tea bags for proper time. Add juices and spices. Simmer on stove top for 20-30 minutes. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks. Serve Hot.

Cooking Tip: Counting the cloves before you add them to the wassail helps you keep track for when you take them out and ensure no-one gulps down a clove!

What are your favorite holiday traditions? Leave a comment here.

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