linda villano, serendipitea, shrub, switchel
You are not logged in. Access is limited. Login or see membership information. • The Tea House Times
Home » Columns / News / Blogs » GUEST BLOGGERS

Scroll down for page content - See LEFT side for Archives


  The Tea House Times Guest Blog - Linda Villano
Blog Entry

SHRUBS & SWITCHELS & SWITZLES ~ Oh My! by Linda Villano

Monday, May 25th 2015 @ 8:25 AM

And here we have a slice of Americana.  Popular summer drinks in 1700’s through the 1900’s, these unusually named vinegar-based drinks were refreshments, thirst-quenchers of Colonial America particularly for hard-working famers & field hands.  They include ingredients which are readily available & could be very interesting additions to a tea house menu.

Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars, are easy to make & are a great way to use overly ripened fruits & even vegetables.  They are concentrates which are added to other liquids. There are various methods of preparation but the ingredients are always equal portions of Fruits/Veggies ~ Sugar/Sweetener ~ Vinegar.  One method is to simply put fruit (include some veggies if you’d like) into a bowl, cover with an equal portion of sugar (or sweetener of choice – molasses, maple syrup, cane sugar, honey, etc.), then leave to macerate in the refrigerator for at least 24-hours to several days. The juices will leach out into the bowl after a period of time. 

Pour this liquid into a larger bowl then place remaining fruit & vegetables into a colander or sieve above bowl with the liquid & press out any remaining juice from the ingredients.


Add an equal portion of vinegar to the liquid.  Transfer the liquid to glass or ceramic bottles/containers with lids & shake vigorously.  Be sure to use sterilized or well-cleaned containers.  Let rest in the refrigerator for several days before using; shake daily….if you remember.  Any vinegar will suffice in these recipes & after trials with different kinds you’ll determine your favorites.  

Consider adding botanicals, herbs & spices to the fruit mixture to create varied flavor profiles.  Shrubs can be mixed into water, seltzer, alcohol, or even iced tea ~ the possibilities are endless!

Unlike Shrubs, Switchels, also known as Switzels, are self-drinkers.  The very basic recipe is, quite simply, equal portions of Vinegar, Sweetener, Ginger & Water.  The portions can certainly be adjusted to suit personal preferences.  As with Shrubs, the kind of vinegar & sweetener used will contribute to the finished  taste.  And, some prefer using dried ginger as opposed to freshly grated ginger.   All ingredients should be stirred together, left to rest in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours at least, and then served over ice.

Ahhhhhh. Now that’s refreshing.

Interested in more information about Shrubs & Switchels? A detailed article will be published in the July/August issue of The Tea House Times.  (



~ Linda Villano, SerendipiTea

Click here to RETURN to Guest Blog Directory

© All content and images are copyright of author.
LINDA VILLANO co-founded in 1995 with Tomislav Podreka. With a passion for all things Tea, she oversees all aspects of the business; including client consulting, concept and design, staff training, sourcing and product development (recipe creations). Having grown up in a family of restaurateurs and chefs, she considers her role as a purveyor of premium teas & tisanes a natural continuation of her family’s culinary tradition.   Linda is a published illustrator and writer. Her illustrations appear in Tomislav Podreka’s book, SerendipiTea: a guide to the varieties, origins and rituals of tea, and she writes articles about tea for trade publications.

The Tea House Times
is published 6x per year (in print or via download) plus weekly eNews.

SOCIAL MEDIA - Follow us @teahousetimes    | Affiliate/Ad details here.



2003 - present