Sugar-free Russian Tea

Sugar-free Russian Tea
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Maybe you grew up calling it friendship tea, or maybe it was orange spice tea, this sugar-free Russian tea is the low-carb and keto-friendly version of that holiday tea.

When I was a child, we would enjoy “Friendship tea” around the holidays. When I polled my readers on Instagram, many shared that they knew what this tea was and a lot of them referred to it as “Russian Tea”. Either way, this tea was a powder mix of sugary iced tea powder mixed with orange drink powder (like Tang) and some spices like cloves and cinnamon. It was a warm cup of happy.

Ingredients for this sugar-free Russian Tea Recipe

Russian tea or friendship tea is typically made with things that are very high in sugar which also means that it’s very high in carbs. In order to make this low carb and keto-friendly, we switched the ingredients up.

  • Orange Tea Bags
  • Monk Fruit Sweetener
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Whole Cloves
  • Dehydrated or fresh Orange slices (optional)
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Hot water (of course!)

Do Dehydrated Orange Slices Have Carbs?

One medium orange contains about 12g net carbs. When oranges are dehydrated the sugars don’t disappear.

However, this tea does not call for a whole orange or even half an orange. Depending on the slice thickness of your orange slice, it may only be 1/12th of an orange (1g net carb) that would sit on top of your tea. If you’re using dehydrated oranges, you wouldn’t even eat it, it would just flavor the tea and maybe add a carb to your drink.

The recipe notes that adding oranges is optional. Don’t be afraid of the 1 net carb though!!

I sliced my orange into about 12 slices and dehydrated it in a small dehydrator for a few hours until they were completely dry. I store the dried oranges in a mason jar.

What Tea Works Best for this Keto Orange Spice Tea Recipe?

We tried two varieties of orange tea and both had similar flavors. I picked each up at local grocery stores. If you have access to one and not the other, just go for it. Since spices are added to the tea, the end flavor is quite similar.

Orange & Spice tea by Bigelow is easy to find in most grocery stores. If I am going to give a Russian Tea Gift set, I’d choose this one because the tea bags are individually wrapped.

Box of Bigelow Orange & Spice

If you like to drink tea that does not have spice added, you may want to grab a box of this Celestial Seasonings Citrus Sunrise. This box does not have individually wrapped tea bags.

Box of Celestial Seasonings Citrus Sunrise

Make this Sugar-free Tea into an Easy Gift!

For your low carb friends, a little sugar-free Russian tea set could be an awesome gift. You could gift it with a mug and a little sachet of sweetener and cloves (add cloves to the monkfruit sweetener and place in a little ziploc bag or sachet).

Gift bundle for making Sugar-free Russian Tea or Friendship orange spice tea

Serve this Friendship Tea at a party

If you’re hosting or going to a party and want to serve this tea to a crowd, it is super easy to make and then keep warm using a crockpot or Instant Pot to keep it warm.

Orange Spice Sugar-free Russian Tea is also known as friendship tea - this version does not use powdered drink mixes.

Calculate how many servings you’d like (see graphic below), steep the tea for 4-5 minutes then remove the bags, add the sweetener, spices, vanilla, and optional orange slices then keep it warm in a crockpot or Instant Pot during your gathering.

If this is your main party drink, plan for at least one serving for each guest. Follow this quick guide where the measurements have already been calculated for you. Note: the sweetener portions are variable. If you prefer sweeter tea, add the higher amount, if you like your tea to be less sweet, add the smaller amount.

Tips for making this Sugar-Free Orange Spice Tea

When making the tea, be sure to only leave the tea bag in the tea for 4-5 minutes (follow the instructions on the box). If you leave the bag in for too long it could make the tea bitter.

If you’re only making a small batch you could use a glass pitcher, jar, or a saucepan. Add a cinnamon stick and a few cloves and the tea bags. Pour the hot water over and allow the tea to steep. Remove the bags but leave the cinnamon and cloves in the tea. Add the sweetener and vanilla and an orange slice if you so desire.

I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, you can leave the cloves and cinnamon in your cup, just don’t eat them :).

If you’re making a large batch for a party, follow similar steps but you could brew the tea in batches, or make a concentrate by using your desired number of tea bags, steeping a very strong batch then add the remaining hot water to your crockpot or Instant Pot. For both of these scenerios, you can add the cloves and cinnamon sticks whatever you steep the tea in. Remember to remove the tea bags after 4-5 minutes. Leave the spices in the tea mixture. The longer the tea is on warm (in the crockpot or Instant Pot) the stronger the spice flavor will become.

Vanilla adds an unexpected depth of flavor to the tea that you don’t want to miss. If you’re using genuine vanilla extract or imitation, I won’t judge. Since vanilla extract is so expensive, I usually use the imitation.

Sweetener preferences wildly vary. You could set a bowl of sweetener next to the crockpot so that people can add sweetener if they’d like. It’s easier to add sweetener to something that isn’t sweet enough than to make it too sweet.

Orange Spice Tea Illustration by Yellow Glass Dish, All Rights Reserved

Recipes to serve with this Sugar-free Russian Tea

Anything from this collection of Low Carb Christmas Cookies

Mini Keto Brie Bites

Citrus Almond Ricotta Cake

Keto Snowball Cookies

Cinnamon Swirl Cake

Low Carb Fudge

For THM friends, this is an (FP)

Sugar-free Russian Tea

Sugar-free Russian tea is also known as friendship tea or orange spice tea. You can make this low carb and keto version of the drink for yourself or share at a party!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time5 mins
Breakfast, Brunch, Drinks, Party
Cuisine: American
Cinnamon, Cloves, Dairy Free, Friendship Tea, Gluten-free, Keto, Low Carb, Orange, Orange Spice Tea, Russian Tea, Sugar Free
Servings: 2
Calories: 3kcal


  • 2 bags Orange Tea
  • 16 oz Boiling Water
  • 3 tsp monk fruit sweetener (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 4 Whole Cloves (more or less to taste)
  • dehydrated or thinly sliced fresh orange Optional


  • In a jar, glass measuring cup, or saucepan place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and tea bags then cover with boiling water. Let the tea steep for 4-5 minutes (see your tea box for time instructions). Remove and discard tea bags.
  • Add sweetener and vanilla to prepared tea.
  • Serve in mugs or teacups, place one cinnamon stick in each mug. It is okay if cloves are in the tea, they will continue to add flavor, just don't eat them.
  • Optional – Place a slice of fresh or dehydrated orange in the tea. See notes


Orange slices aren’t actually eaten, therefore the carb content is minimal. This is mostly for looks. Nutrition facts do not reflect oranges being added as they are optional. 

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