Fans of tea cocktails have long known that adding tea as an ingredient in cocktails (and mocktails) makes a great drink even better. But what if we twisted this notion around a bit -- rather than just adding tea as an ingredient, instead we infused the alcohol with the tea? It’s incredibly easy and can change the way you look at your favorite cocktail recipes.
Combining tea and liquor is not a new notion. Back as far as colonial times, tea was used as an ingredient in alcoholic punches. With the variety of tea flavors and blends available now, the art of infusing for cocktails has become incredibly popular, as the possibilities and options for creaTEAvity are endless.
Creating a unique tea-infused spirit is about as simple as simple gets:
- Choose your spirit. As with any cocktail, the better the quality of alcohol, the better the beverage.
- Choose your tea. Any tea will work, but those with more flavor will have more impact than say a very light, delicate tea. Herbals, flavored black teas and flavored green teas are wonderful choices if you are looking to give your spirit a definitive flavor and/or vibrant color. Think how beautiful a drink would be with the purple hues of Indigo Punch or vibrant red of Strawberry Kiwi Fruit. Also, if you’re creating your cocktail as you unwind in the evening, consider using a decaf tea if caffeine at night is a concern.
- Once you have your chosen ingredients, just add 3-4 tablespoons of loose tea to 750mL of spirits and shake or stir to combine.
- Let the tea steep in the alcohol for a minimum of two hours and up to 24. The longer it steeps, the stronger the tea flavor. Also, the higher the alcohol content, the less time it needs to steep. No heating is necessary. Shake or stir occasionally.
- When you’re ready, strain the tea from the alcohol. Refrigerate until you’re ready to start mixin’!
Another method you can use for more generic use is to steep tea in syrup. This gives you the option of adding a tea infusion into different kinds of cocktails made with a variety of spirits, rather than having an entire bottle of infused vodka or gin, for example. To infuse tea in syrup:
- Steep your tea of choice according to the brewing instructions on the package
- Stir an equal amount of sugar into the hot tea and stir until fully saturated
- Store the tea-infused syrup in the refrigerator and use in place of a regular simple syrup in your cocktail recipe.
As we said, you can use this simple method with any tea and any spirit of your choosing to add some tea-zazz to your cocktails! Here are just a couple of recipes to get you started. Happy infusing!
Earl Greyhound Fizz
- 4 bags Earl Grey Supreme tea
- 1 750mL bottle vodka
For the honey simple syrup:
- ½ C honey
- ½ C water
For the cocktail:
- 2 oz. Earl Grey infused vodka
- 1 oz. honey simple syrup
- 1 oz. grapefruit juice
- Seltzer, for serving
- Grapefruit zest peel, for garnish
- Make the tea-infused vodka: Add the tea bags to the vodka bottle and let infuse. Discard the tea bags.
- Make the honey simple syrup: in a small saucepan, combine the honey and water over medium-high heat. Cook until the honey has dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Make the cocktail: in a cocktail shaker, combine the infused vodka, simple syrup, grapefruit juice and ice. Shake until well chilled, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with seltzer and garnish with the grapefruit zest peel, then serve.
Spicy Mango Fruit Tea Margarita
- 4 T loose (or four bags) Mango Fruit Tea
- 750mL tequila
For the cocktail:
- 3 oz. Mango Fruit Tea-infused tequila (see instructions below)
- 1 oz. orange liqueur
- ¾ oz. lime juice
- ½ oz. agave nectar
- ¼ jalapeño
- Mint garnish
- Make the tea-infused tequila: Add the Mango Fruit Tea to the vodka bottle and let infuse. Strain or discard the tea.
- Add 3 slices of jalapeño and lime juice to a cocktail shaker and lightly muddle.
- Add remaining ingredients and shake over ice. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
- Garnish with two slices of jalapeño and a sprig of fresh mint.