Tea, Your Cocktail Mixing Secret Weapon
Tea is one one of the drinks that helped shape the world we live in today. It’s also been mixed into delicious alcoholic concoctions for centuries, even predating the cocktail itself, and It will soon become your cocktail mixing secret weapon!
Punch, the shareable precursor to the Martini, would regularly use tea to flavour their recipes and both tea as a lengthening ingredient and as an infusion can be found in Punch recipes in the iconic Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, written by Harry Craddock.
The real genius of tea is that, not only can you write brand new recipes with it, but you can also adapt many of your favourite recipes by using tea in one of the three following ways. We mentioned two above (lengthening and infusion), and a third is to turn tea into a sugar syrup.
Now, when we say tea here, we’re really talking about the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Like wine, where the plant is grown, its ‘terroir’ as the French say, has a huge impact on the tea’s flavor. As does how the leaves are treated to preserve them, creating Green tea, Black tea, Oolong tea and the rest. However, other infusions that are drunk as ‘teas’ can also be used here.
The key watchout whenever using tea are tannins. Over brewing or using water too hot for the type of tea you are using are two good ways to over extract tannins and make your drink literally undrinkable. This is why we recommend cold brew techniques that work with all teas, no matter how delicate they are. Extracting all the flavour with minimal tannins.
Probably the technique you immediately thought of. Simply using tea as a mixing / lengthening ingredient. You have boozy Iced-Tea recipes such as the smoky Pirate Iced Tea and the deliciously light and refreshing Jasmine Garden that can be served and enjoyed with or without alcohol.
You can of course carbonate your tea too, using a Soda Stream or other CO2 compressor. Just be very slow and deliberate using a soda stream when you release the pressure. Otherwise, you will have fizzy tea everywhere! With a carbonated tea you can do variations on many of your favorite highball cocktails. From the Collins and the Rickey to the Whisky Highball.
In terms of how to make the tea. You can of course make tea as you would drink it hot, and simply wait for it to cool. However, we’d recommend using a Cold Brew technique as outlined here, especially if using higher quality teas that are more temperature sensitive.
02. Tea Syrup
It’s as simple as it sounds. Take your brewed tea, like above, and turn it into a flavoured sugar syrup.
This is another deliciously simple way to add the flavours of tea or infusions to a classic cocktail recipe, without upsetting the balance of the recipe and having to reinvent it.
Put a floral twist on a Daiquiri with a Jasmine Green tea syrup, add earthy depth of flavour to a Collins with a Black Tea Syrup or smooth and nutty flavours to an Old Fashioned with an Oolong teas syrup.
Infusing tea into a spirit is essentially another way of brewing tea, but instead of using heated water, it’s the alcohol that extracts the flavours from the tea. It’s a simple, and low risk technique that is another way to bring new flavours to a classic recipe. Plus, it doesn’t upset the balance of the recipe, although, depending on the tea you use, it will add dry earthy notes and some light tannins.
Some key points to be aware of:
- Do not, we repeat, DO NOT heat the spirit to infuse the tea. The alcohol will happily do the job at room temperature.
- If you need to speed up the process, you can increase the amount of tea or gently agitate the mixture. Both of these techniques can reduce the infusion time.
- Darker teas will add flavours more quickly, so keep in mind that not all infusions are the same. Taste the liquid throughout the process to get to the point that works for you and the recipe.
- Make sure to filter out all bits of tea before using the spirit. A coffee filter paper and a funnel are the perfect combination to get your infused spirit to the perfect place for using.
- There is no shelf life for this product, so you don’t have to worry about making too much as you can use it another day. Just make sure to keep the lid on the bottle and for best results, the fridge is the best place to store the bottle as it’s cold and importantly dark.
As always, don’t forget to show us hat you made by tagging us!
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