In this case, we’re going to use tea brewed in water to lengthen cocktails in the same way you might use sparkling water, tonic or ginger ale in cocktails.
This process is similar to Using Booze to Brew (Technique A), because, whether you’re using alcohol or water, the flavour of the tea leaves is being extracted via brewing, and this is therefore the most important skill to understand, no matter what you are doing with tea.
It’s vital to remember that the more delicate and higher quality the tea is, the more mindful you need to be about how you prepare it. The most delicious loose green tea can be ruined if over-brewed.
The easiest way to destroy any tea, is to over-extract the tannins from the leaf. The right amount of tannins in a drink will give a soft and pleasant drying finish, and can be found in drinks like red wine as well as tea.
However, too many tannins will render any drink so bitter that it becomes utterly undrinkable. This generally happens either through:
Brewing the tea with water that is too hot
Brewing the tea for too long
The temperature issue only really affects high grade teas, especially Green Teas that must be brewed with water somewhere between 60-80 degrees Celsius (depending on the specific tea). When it comes to oxidised Black Teas, you can stop worrying about the temperature of the water, and use water straight from the kettle. The oxidisation process makes them far more robust, therefore with a Black Tea, all you really need to worry about is over brewing (i.e. leaving the tea leaves / bag in the water for too long). Oolong Teas are brewed at temperatures somewhere between Green and Black Tea.
Understanding tea is like understanding wine or cocktails. It’s incredibly complicated, but there is a “hack” that will allow you to brew any tea without speciality knowledge.
This failsafe and most simple of methods for preparing tea, is with a slow brew method using cold water. This will extract all the flavours from the tea, without the worry of extracting too many tannins, no matter what tea you’re using.
Calculate approximately 1 teaspoon of loose tea (or 1 teabag) per pint of cold water.
Store the mixture in the fridge overnight (6-9 hours), and the next morning you will have perfectly brewed, ice-cold tea, ready to drink or ready to mix!
In a rush?
If you need tea NOW to make your drinks, you can dramatically speed up the brewing process by stirring the tea in the cold water as well as doubling up on the amount of tea you’re using.
Make sure you taste the tea regularly to find the perfect brew point for your palate.
Using Tea to Make Syrup
Another way to get the delicious flavours of tea into your cocktails is by making your sugar syrups a little more exciting by using tea instead of plain water.