Using Booze to Brew
This technique uses the alcohol in a spirit, instead of water, to extract the flavours of the tea. The alcohol will carry the flavours and aromas of the tea, and release them when you make your cocktail as dilution is added.
What tea you use will have a huge impact here.
A black tea like the citrussy, bergamot flavoured Earl Grey tea, has a very fast brew-time. Oolong tea, halfway between green teas and the fully oxidised black teas, often has delicious creamy flavours that work great in cocktails. They need a little longer to brew than a black tea.
Green tea take the longest time to brew as it’s the freshest and lightest style of tea. Depending again on the green tea you use, they will often add bright, green and grassy notes to your chosen spirit. For a really ‘grassy’ note, try Japanese style Sencha green tea. Its character comes in part from the use of steam heat rather than dry heat to process the tea leaves.
Tea-infused booze is not limited to any one recipe. Instead you can use it in place of a regular base spirit to add a simple twist to any cocktail recipe.
The infused tea will not affect the balance of the drink in terms of sweetness or tartness, and so tea infusion makes for a very simple variation on any recipe.
As we say… experiment, have fun and as always trust your palate!
Fast Brew v Planning Ahead
- Instructions A
You’re ‘Planning Ahead’, well done you!
- Instructions B
While we all like the idea of planning ahead, it doesn’t always happen. For you, we have the Fast Brew option.
Whichever technique you use… DO NOT heat the booze!!! The alcohol in the spirit will ‘brew’ the tea, extracting its flavours and tannins in the same way hot water does.
Brew Tea with Booze
- Add spirit
- Add tea and stir
- Grab clean bottle, funnel and tea strainer
- Strain tea
- Store in labelled bottle
Brewing your booze with tea ahead of time makes for a much easier experience when it comes to making drinks for yourself or for your friends, especially if you want to make more than a couple of drinks at a time.
Take 10 tea bags or 10 teaspoons of loose tea for each litre of spirit you want to flavour.
Add the tea to a jug (you can use a bowl, but a jug makes it much easier to pour the tea after brewing) then pour in the spirit and very gently stir together for a few seconds to make sure all leaves are exposed to the spirit.
Leave the tea to ‘brew’. The time this takes will vary dramatically depending on what tea you are using and how much character you are looking to add to the spirit.
Taste your spirit throughout the process to find the perfect moment when just the right amount of flavour has been extracted.
Black Tea approx 10 minutes
Oolong Tea approx 30+ minutes
Green Tea approx 60+ minutes
When the flavour of the tea has been extracted to your taste, strain the spirit out of the jug and into a labelled bottle for ease of storage and use.
NB: If you are using tea bags, gently squeeze them out to make sure you don’t lose any booze!
This super fast technique only really works with Black and Oolong Teas. It’s not ideal for Green Teas that better suit a slow and more delicate extraction.
NB: This technique requires double the amount of tea to help accelerate the process, making it more expensive.
Add your chosen tea bag and spirit to your glass, mixing jug or shaker, and very gently stir them together for about 5 – 10 seconds.
You will need to stir Oolong tea for longer, depending on how much flavour you want to extract. If you only have loose tea, firstly, well done for being fancy. Secondly, you will need to brew the tea with the spirit in a separate glass or jug, then strain it through a tea strainer into a glass, mixing jug or shaker once the brewing is complete.
This works so quickly due to the constant agitation (stirring) of the tea and spirit together and using about twice as much tea as the slower technique requires.
Like all things in drinks making, it comes down to ratios. The longer you keep the tea in the spirit, the stronger the brew will be. More agitation will enable faster extraction, as will increasing the ratio of how much tea to spirit you use. All of these variables will have an impact on the flavours you extract.
Be aware that if you brew and stir for too long, you can easily extract too many tannins, making the spirit bitter to the point of being undrinkable. So, don’t do that!
This is why the slower, more delicate technique is always preferred if time allows.
As with all recipes and techniques, practice and tasting will allow you to work out what your exact preferences are.
NB: If you’re using a tea bag, remember to squeeze the bag gently but firmly to make sure you don’t lose any booze.
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