Recipes: Up your cocktail game with tasty tea

Tea-infused pink cocktails
Tea-infused pink cocktails

Recipes: Up your cocktail game with tasty tea

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Okinawa

Who doesn’t love a piña colada, strawberry daiquiri or spiced rum and coke, some of the all-time classics among cocktails? Yummy they might be, with ingredients such as sugary soda, fruit juices and cream, they’re also quite the calorie bombs. There’s a simple and inexpensive way to make your boozy concoctions both a little less fattening and a bit more on trend — look no further than the tea in your cupboard.

Alcoholic beverages incorporating tea are nothing new; in fact, according to the Tea Epicure website, tea in booze and mixed drinks can be traced as far back as 1727. Punches, concoctions of rum, citrus and spices, were invented by British sailors as alternatives to the beer that would grow flat on long journeys, and the drink soon became a party staple, even in the American colonies. Records show that the founding fathers downed 76 of them at the celebration following the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Punches typically consisted of alcohol, water and a sweet, sour and spicy element. Jerry Thomas, a nineteenth-century bartender who’s considered the father of American mixology, noted that adding tea to punches gave them an added complexity.

As tea culture evolved and cocktails experienced their own revival, a new generation of mixologists began recognizing the potential of pairing the two with great success. Some cocktails use a brewed tea, while others call for infusing the alcohol with tea. Here are a few suggestions to get you started, based on a variety of teas and hard liquors. Recipes have been adapted to yield approximately one cocktail and illustrate the basic steps. For complete instructions, follow the links provided.

Chamomile Honey Whiskey Cocktail

Adapted from Panther Distillery

1 tablespoon honey

1 chamomile tea bag

1/4 cup water

Juice of half a lemon

1 ounce whiskey

Lemon slice for garnish

1. Steep tea bag in 1/4 cup hot water. Add honey and stir while still hot; allow to cool.

2. When cooled down to room temperature, add lemon juice and whiskey.

3. Fill glass with ice and garnish with lemon.


Hibiscus Margarita

Adapted from Namely Marly

2 hibiscus tea bags

1 cup hot water

Your choice of sweetener

Zest of one orange

1 ounce tequila

1 ounce vodka

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1. Make hibiscus tea by placing the tea bags in hot water; add orange zest and allow to steep.

2. Add tequila, vodka, and lime juice to a cocktail shaker and shake well.

3. Strain the tea into the cocktail shaker, add ice, shake and serve.


Earl Grey Gin Tonic

Adapted from Rewe

1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey tea

1 ounce gin

1/4 lemon, peeled

1 cup tonic water

1. Pour the gin over the tea and allow it to infuse for two hours.

2. Cut the lemon peel into thin strips.

3. Pour the gin through a sieve, add tonic water and garnish with the lemon peel. If the drink is too tart, sweeten with sugar or syrup. 


Flying Eagle Iced Tea

Adapted from Food Network

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup packed mint leaves, chopped or muddled

1/2 cup freshly brewed tea

1/3 cup vodka

1. In a small saucepan, make a simple syrup by bringing the lemon juice and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

2. In a large glass, mix together the mint leaves, simple syrup, iced tea and vodka. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the mint to steep. Add ice.


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