Unique and cozy hot drinks from around the world for gourmet palates

These hot drinks from around the world are a perfect companion to keep you warm during the winter.

Winter is almost here. Sadly, it comes with its loyal companion, the cold weather. Thus, many of us find this situation as the perfect excuse to enjoy a nice and cozy drink to snuggle with a blanket and warm our spirits. So, why not expand our gourmet palate and experiment with hot beverages from around the world? 

A perfect companion for a cold day! These unique and tasty hot drinks from around the world will surely keep you warm during the season!


Bicerin (Italy)

This traditional drink was born in the city of Turin, in the homonymous coffee house Caffè Al Bicerin, which up to this day still has the original recipe. This one has been passed down from generation to generation to preserve it over time. A good bicerin includes three basic ingredients: coffee, chocolate, and heavy cream. 

The bicerin is an evolution of the bavareisa of the eighteenth century, a drink that in its times contained coffee, chocolate, milk, and flavored syrup. Bavareisa was often served in large glasses. Originally, the three ingredients of the bicerin were served separately. However, since the 19th century, they have been combined in a single glass, obtaining three variants:


  • Pur e fiu r: similar to the current cappuccino, with only coffee and milk.
  • Pur e barba: coffee and chocolate.
  • ‘N poc’ d tut: which translates to "a little of everything” and is a mix of the three ingredients.
  • The ‘n poc’ d tut was the most successful and popular variant and the one that's often served up to this day. It changed its name to bicerin thanks to the small glasses without handles in which it’s served. The drink gained so much fame that it managed to become one of the symbols of Turin! In 2001, it was recognized as the "traditional Piedmontese drink" in the Official Gazette of the Piedmont Region. 


    A heavenly drink for the coffee and chocolate lovers!

    Noon chai (Kashmir Valley)

    If you’re a chai enthusiast, then you’ll definitely want to try the noon chai! This traditional pink tea originated in the Kashmir Valley, a region known as the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Here, the people tend to enjoy their drink with naan bread. 

    The noon chai is also called sheer chai, Kashmiri tea, or pink tea. This warm drink is also enjoyed in some areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.


    This pink-colored tea obtains this hue thanks to one of its main ingredients: a pinch of baking soda. The noon chai also has gunpowder tea (green tea leaves rolled into small balls), milk, cardamom, star anise, and sea salt. Plus, there can be some crushed almonds or pistachios at the bottom!

    The word ‘noon’ means salt in many languages. Even if its origins are attributed to Kashmir, other experts have pointed out that it may have a connection with Yarkand in Turkestan, where Atkan chai is made with salt, milk, and butter.


    This aromatic tea will help you endure the cold!

    Wattlecino (Australia)

    The golden wattle is Australia’s national flower. It also happens to be the country’s key element to their appetizing caffeine-free drink: the wattlecino. Wattleseed is a nutritious roasted grain that boasts an amazing flavor similar to those of coffee, chocolate, and hazelnut. This ingredient has been used in both savory and sweet dishes in Australia, such as bread, ice cream, chicken, and so many more! Clearly a handy ingredient for many kitchens!

    To prepare this warm beverage, wattleseeds are ground up and used as a coffee substitute. Then it is prepared in a classic cappuccino-style hot beverage with added steamed milk. 


    A nice drink to start your morning, this Australian drink also has nutritional benefits thanks to the seed, which is high in protein and vitamins. The best part, it can be topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a drizzle of honey!

    Salep or Sahlab (Egypt, Turkey, and Middle East)

    Sahlab, salep, or sohlob is a widely consumed winter drink in Egypt, the Middle East, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Greece, and India. This creamy drink has a unique aroma linked to the orchid flour that’s used to make it. 


    Nowadays, orchid flour is very rare since it's obtained by grinding orchid tubers. Yet, it’s still traditionally used in some places to give the beverage its typical fragrant taste.

    The sahlab has the consistency of thick white cream and is halfway between a pudding and a flan. It is consumed hot or warm, in the morning for breakfast or in the afternoon, accompanied by cinnamon and walnuts.


    The ingredients used to accompany the salep may vary from country to country. For example, in the Middle East and Turkey, it is consumed with cinnamon and crushed pistachios. In Egypt and other Eastern countries, the traditional version of sahlab contains grated coconut, cinnamon, and walnuts.

    In ancient times, the salep was a popular drink in Persia, India, Turkey, and Greece, in the lands of the Ottoman Empire. In addition, this drink was consumed in England during the 18th and 19th centuries when sahlab was known by the name of saloop.


    Café de olla (Mexico)

    Many Mexicans find comfort in the cold mornings by sipping a sweet café de olla. A traditional coffee that’s usually served in a decorated clay pot. One cannot help but relish its scent of cinnamon and piloncillo (pure cane sugar). Sometimes, you can also detect some notes of cloves, cardamom, orange, or lemon peel that are within the drink’s mixture.

    There are many stories about how this coffee preparation was born in Mexico; but, to obtain this warm drink, two fundamental elements had to arrive: coffee beans and spices.


    The chronicler Salvador Novo explains that coffee was imported to the New World at the beginning of the 18th-century. The coffee’s arrival in Mexico can be traced back to 1790, although its consumption was not very common back then. Along with the European imports came the spices.

    Likewise, the cultivation of sugar cane was implemented in the Spanish colonies, where the production of one of its derivatives began: the piloncillo, an unrefined whole cane sugar, typical of Central and Latin America. It became an ingredient in atole, cacao drinks, and much later, in coffee.


    So when exactly was the café de olla invented? One version indicates that café de olla originated between 1910 and 1917 during the Mexican Revolution when the “Adelitas” prepared this mixture of coffee, cinnamon, and brown sugar. However, it’s almost impossible to determine who’s the original author of this Mexican coffee. Researcher Sandra Aguilar Rodríguez describes that the café de olla was already present in most homes at the beginning of the 20th century and was consumed both during the morning and the night.

    Hot Mulled Cider (Europe)

    The origins of hot mulled cider aren't very clear, but it's often dated back to the Ancient Greeks who would take part in the wine harvest that didn't make it and heat it with different spices. During Medieval times, this type of preparation really took off and became very popular mainly because it was believed that added spices were extremely healthy. The wine was often heated with flowers, herbs, and sweeteners. Variations soon appeared in different countries of Northern Europe where mulled wine would become a savior during the very cold winters. 


    In Victorian England, mulled cider became a traditional Christmas beverage, and tons of recipe books were published during the season. Mulled cider also became quite popular in the United States during the nineteenth century and there are even records of mulled cider drinking during the Civil War.

    Nowadays, this beverage is often prepared with fresh apple cider or apple juice, cinnamon sticks, orange peel and juice, cloves, and anise. Many countries in Europe still use wine as the base of this drink.


    Photos from Shutterstock

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