We drank this out of a flask today after a winter woodland walk when we were all frozen.  I concocted it a few years ago so drivers and other non-drinkers got something interesting to drink at our mulled wine and mince pie night.   It has the tanginess and colour of mulled wine and all the lovely spiceyness of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.   If you like you can make this a day or two ahead of time and cool covered with a lid so the lovely aromas don’t disappear…

For 4 big glasses:

3 good quality hibiscus tea bags (try to buy from health stores because they taste better).  If the teabags have other flavours such as lemon, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, star anise in as well that’s fine) (see below for alternatives to teabags)
750ml boiling water
3 long strips of orange peel (use a potato peeler to do this) from 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange (take the strips of peel off first as its harder to do after juicing)
12 whole cloves
10cm cinnamon stick
A good grating of whole nutmeg (or a large pinch of ground nutmeg but this makes the drink look more cloudy)
2 tbs xylitol (from health stores), or to taste
For more info on unusual ingredients, see my larder & shopping section

1. Boil the kettle, then in a saucepan pour 750 ml boiling water over the 3 teabags.  Add the orange peel, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, nutmeg and xylitol.
2. Leave to infuse on a very low heat, covered with a lid or plate, for around 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, juice the orange, strain it and discard the “bits”.
3. When all the flavours have infused well in to the liquid, fish out the teabags and add the juice of the orange.   Adjust the sweetness, adding more xylitol if it’s not sweet enough already.
4. When you are ready to drink it, heat through and pour into glasses.


  • Try adding extra zestiness by adding fresh ginger tea.  Infuse a heaped teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger in half a cup (around 125ml) of boiling water, then strain the liquid into your mulled non-wine. Or simply thinly slice 3cm of fresh ginger root into the saucepan before you add the 750ml boiling water.
  • You could use Biona unsweetened cranberry juice (I suggest around 100ml) instead of hibiscus teabags.  The cranberry also gives the tart flavour you need for the mulled non-wine.  Biona brand is in health stores and Dublin Food Co Op.
  • Instead of whole cinnamon and cloves you could use ground but remember this will make the drink cloudy.

Why this is better for you:
Because this recipe uses xylitol instead of sugar, and hibiscus instead of wine, its a really low GI (or low sugar) drink.   This means it doesn’t rob your body of nutrients like sugar or sugary alcaholic drinks (eg wine) do.  Spices (ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and more) are a powerhouse for your wellbeing because they are anti-microbial, acting like natural antibiotics without the downside of antibiotics.  Spices help you resist getting colds, flu and skin infections (e.g. acne), so they are a brilliant thing to eat or drink every day.