It feels like no matter where you turn this time of year, there’s pumpkin spice everything — from coffee to tea to cakes to smoothies. But no matter how tasty these spiced concoctions might seem, most of them are chock full of sugar and, let’s be real, have never even been anywhere near an actual pumpkin.
But we get the desire for a warm, comforting fall beverage; luckily, there are options. Here are five of our favorites.
1. True Masala Chai
Like “pumpkin spice,” the word “chai” gets thrown around a lot, but just because the term is in the title doesn’t mean you’re getting the real thing. A true masala chai is a blend of black tea, green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and black peppercorns, brewed in a mix of water and milk. This traditional recipe has all of those delicious fall spices and is the perfect substitute for your morning cup of coffee.
Harry Potter fans — the time has come to try a true butterbeer. I’m not talking about that sickly sweet version you can find at Disney World. I’m talking about butterbeer the way our favorite wizards probably actually drank it: a warm combination of homemade butterscotch and real beer. It’s sweet, it’s delicious, and it’s just alcoholic enough to keep you warm on cool fall evenings.
3. Clove Tea
For a super simple spiced treat, clove tea is the perfect choice. Grind the cloves right before making the tea for the best flavor, and then pour a quart of boiling water over a tablespoonful of the ground spice. Let the drink infuse for about 20 minutes before straining out the cloves, and sweeten if you like. Not only is this drink delicious, it’s also super good for you: cloves are known for helping with pain relief, digestion, and insomnia, making this the perfect beverage to enjoy just before bed.
4. Hot Pumpkin Juice
This pumpkin spice juice actually has pumpkin in it — plus all that tasty pumpkin spice. To make it, put equal parts fresh pumpkin and apple through your juicer, and season with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice, or your favorite pumpkin pie spice blend. Heat the juice until hot, but not boiling, and serve garnished with a cinnamon stick with your breakfast. (The juice is also really tasty cold if you’re in a hurry.)
5. Warm Apple Cider
The European tradition of mulled wine gets Americanized when you use apple cider and maple syrup. Unfiltered apple cider is simmered with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and citrus peel — along with a healthy glug of maple syrup. A bit of rum makes this drink the perfect adult beverage for a fall cocktail party; ladle it out of a punch bowl for an old-fashioned touch.
Related on EcoSalon
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Image by Timothy Krause