There is something magical about German Christmas markets: The colors, the lights, the sounds, the displays, the huge selection of hand-crafted goods, delicious foods, and intoxicating aromas.
Time seems to stand still in this setting and you can easily lose yourself for hours.
And that’s where two traditional German Christmas hot drinks come in handy to keep your warm as you meander your way through the stalls, inhaling the enchanting atmosphere.
The first of these is Glühwein, a mulled wine with classic warming spices. The other, Kinderpunsch, is just what its name translates to: A punch for kids or for adults who don’t drink. It’s like the virgin version of Glühwein.
I remember visiting the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt (where I grew up) every year next to the Altes Schloss (old palace). Clutching a mug of steaming hot Kinderpunsch between my hands, I would sip it slowly as we made our way through the market.
The thing that distinguishes this German punch from other mulled punches is the addition of Früchtetee (fruit tea), most commonly Malvetee (hibiscus tee), one of the most popular herbal teas in Germany. It infuses the punch with a red color and contributes a wonderful tangy flavor.
My most treasured Christmas market memories are of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a small medieval walled city about an hour and a half northeast of Stuttgart (less if you drive like a German), and home to the world famous Käthe Wohlfahrt store and a special deep-fried pastry, Schneebälle.
While it’s not one of the more famous Christmas markets because of its small size, it’s nevertheless my personal favorite because of the quiet and reverent atmosphere and the sheer beauty of the old setting.
I remember those Winter family drives out to Rothenburg with my parents and brother, listening to three of our family’s favorite Christmas albums, The Carpenters, John Denver, and The Jackson 5, and enjoying more of that Kinderpunsch while strolling through the town with the lights twinkling along each cobblestoned street.
And as funny as it might sound, every time I hear little Michael singing “Someday at Christmas” and “Give Love On Christmas Day” I’m filled with those cherished memories of that special German town in Bavaria.
To make the Kinderpunsch, simply place all the ingredients except for the honey and tea in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tea bags and let them steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and add honey to taste. Reheat the punch until hot.
Serve hot. Optional garnishes to put in each mug include some orange slices, cloves, star anise or cinnamon stick.
- To make the Kinderpunsch, simply place all the ingredients except for the honey and tea in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tea bags and let them steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and add honey to taste. Reheat the punch until hot.
- Serve hot. Optional garnishes to place in each mug include orange slices, cloves, a star anise or cinnamon stick.