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Tea in cocktails is nothing new. It’s a base ingredient in traditional punch. Read all about the history of punch (and its tea inclusion) in David Wondrich’s book Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl.
I’m a huge fan of tea. Growing up, sweetened iced tea was the norm. As an adult I prefer hot tea to cold tea and almost always without sugar. But now and again, I like to play with tea in cocktails. There are so many delicious tea flavors on the market to play with in recipes. One of my favorite ways to use tea in cocktails is making the tea into syrup.
This is the basic recipe I use for making tea syrup:
2 tea bags – any flavor
6 ounces water
3/4 cup sugar
Bring water to boil. Add tea bags and steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Steep longer for stronger tea flavor. Squeeze excess water from tea bag and discard. Add sugar to the tea and bring to simmer just long enough for the sugar to dissolve. Store syrup in a sealed container in the fridge. I usually add an ounce of vodka as preservative before storing. This keeps the syrup fresh for much longer.
I like to use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar when making syrups for cooler weather cocktails. The syrup tastes a little richer, warmer even. And don’t forget about using frozen tea in cocktails, too. They make a wonderful addition whether they are used for icing a tall drink or used while shaking a drink.
Play around with the tea cocktails below using the tea specified in the recipe or using tea you already have on hand.
3 ounces Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey
2 barspoons or 2 teaspoons Raspberry Preserves
1 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
2-1/2 ounce Irish Breakfast Tea
Purchase prepared unsweetened Irish breakfast tea or make it fresh brewed according to package directions. Place whiskey, preserves, lemon juice and tea in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to completely integrate preserves with other ingredients. Strain into a tall glass over fresh ice. Garnish with lemon twist.
Farce ou Friandise
1-1/2 ounce Scotch
1/2 ounce St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1 barspoon or 1 teaspoon Honey
1 ounce Hot Chamomile Tea
Clove Studded Lemon Wedge or Cinnamon Stick
Place liquid ingredients in a heat proof Hot Toddy glass. Heat briefly in the microwave and stir until honey has completely dissolved. Garnish with clove studded lemon wedge or cinnamon stick.
Solerno Blood Orange & Berry Punch
1 – 750ml bottle Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur – chilled
1 – 750ml bottle Lillet Rouge – chilled
12 ounces Red Zinger Tea*
6 ounces Agave Nectar
6 ounces Fresh Lemon Juice
6 ounces Berry Blend Puree – Raspberries, Blueberries, Black Berries, Red Grapes*
Berries & Mint Leaves Garnish
Fresh brew red zinger tea using 4 tea bags with 12 ounces water. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. Squeeze tea bags to release as much flavor as possible before discarding. Allow to cool.
Place equal amounts of raspberries, blueberries, black berries and red grapes into blender. Add agave nectar and lemon juice. Blend on high until mixture is completely smooth.
Place all liquids and berry puree into a punch bowl. Stir. Add a large ice block to the punch bowl. Serve in punch glasses over single cube of ice. Garnish with berries and mint leaf.
Carpe Dia Punch
2 ounces Milagro Anejo Tequila
1 ounce Lime Juice
3/4 ounce Blackberry Syrup
1 ounce Hibiscus Tea
1 ounce Ginger Beer
Sage Leaf & Blackberries
Blackberry syrup can be found with breakfast syrups or ice cream topping syrups in your local grocery store. Purchase prepared unsweetened hibiscus tea or fresh brew according to package instructions.
Place all ingredients except ginger beer in a tall glass over fresh ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with sage leaf and blackberries.
Punch bowl serve
1 – 750ml Milagro Anejo Tequila
12 ounces Lime Juice
9 ounces Blackberry Syrup
12 ounces Hibiscus Tea
12 ounces Ginger Beer
Sage Leaves and Blackberries
Combine all liquids except ginger beer in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with ginger beer just before serving. Garnish with floated berries and sage leaves.
1 ounce Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch
3 ounces Green Tea – unsweetened and chilled
1 ounce Pineapple Juice
Purchase unsweetened green tea or fresh brew according to package directions. Build drink in a tall glass over fresh ice. Garnish with pineapple slice.
2 ounces Deleón Platinum Tequila
1/2 ounce Honey Syrup
3/4 to 1 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice – according to taste preference
3 to 4 ounces Chamomile Tea
1 to 2 dashes Lemon Bitters
Chamomile Flowers or Lemon Wedge Garnish
Purchase prepared unsweetened chamomile tea or make fresh brewed chamomile tea according to package directions. Place honey syrup and lemon juice in a tall glass. Stir until honey is completely dissolved. Fill glass with ice. Add tequila, tea and lemon bitters. Stir briefly. Garnish as desired.
Turmerika Martini – recipe by Rachel Reuben, Food Fix Kitchen
2 ounces Vodka
1/2 ounce Numi Organic Amber Sun Turmeric Tea Simple Syrup*
1 ounce Lemon Juice
Garam Masala Sugar*
Rim glass with lemon wedge and dip into sugar mixture. Set aside. Place remaining liquids in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to chill. Strain into prepared glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Numi Organic Amber Sun Turmeric Tea Simple Syrup
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Water
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger or Fresh Grated Ginger
1 teaspoon Coriander
1 Numi Organic Amber Sun Tea Bag
Place water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil to dissolve sugar. Add spices and tea bag. Remove from heat and allow liquid to steep for minimum of 30 minutes, up to 2 hours. Remove teabag. Refrigerate in sealed container until ready to use.
Garam Masala Sugar
4 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Garam Masala Spice Blend
Combine sugar and spice. Mix thoroughly. Seal in small container until ready to use. Pour sugar mixture onto a flat plate large enough to dip a martini glass when ready to use.
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Cheri Loughlin is the Omaha writer and photographer behind www.intoxicologist.net and author of Cocktails with a Tryst: An Affair with Mixology and Seduction. You can email Cheri with comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.