Mulling it Over: A Simple How to Guide to Making Mull Bags

Though I’ve been told often enough that cold drinks are best for cold days, psychologically I just can’t wrap my head around the notion. For me, winter is all about stocking up on toast, tea and toe-socks. It’s also a time of year where my fancy for warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon busts loose, and I find they make their way into a variety of unusual places, including my steamed collards. But they're especially good as additions to hot drinks.

What You Need:

*Cheesecloth (or old, clean nylons)

*String or twine

*Mortar and pestle

*6 cinnamon sticks

*1 whole nutmeg

*Dried peel of one orange or lemon

*1 Tbsp allspice berries

*1 Tbsp whole cloves

*Optional chopped dried ginger

*Clean glass jar for storage

How To:

1) Coarsely crush cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and citrus peel with the mortar and pestle. If you lack a mortar and pestle, you can also put them in a paper bag and hit them with a hammer until sufficiently ground (fun!).

2) Mix with remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

3) Divide resultant spice mixture into three or four portions and tie into cheesecloth/nylon bundles. Store your sachets in a glass jar until you need them.

4) Use your mulling bags in apple cider, cranberry juice, red wine or port, steeping for approximately 20-30 minutes, being careful not to boil. You may want to add some sweetener to taste (especially if you’re using port). To this end honey, sugar or agave syrup are all acceptable.

Other Hot Drinks

Hot Lemonade: Try warming up some fresh-squeezed lemon juice over the stove with a little honey and ginger. Warming and full of vitamin C.

Hot Toddies: Hot lemonade alone not keeping you warm? Adding a slug of whiskey, brown tequila, or rum can be greatly soothing. Or try a Western European variation: hot tea with an added shot plus sugar and lemon.

Spiced Hot Cocoa: Like apple juice or wine, hot cocoa can benefit greatly from the addition of a few warming spices. I like to mix cinnamon and ginger powder in with the chocolate, and on really cold days, a dash of cayenne pepper.

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