Mixing Tea and Alcohol for Delicious Drinks
Tea is usually associated with relaxation and sobriety, but it can also be used to create delicious and interesting alcoholic cocktails. The natural flavors and aromas of different teas can enhance and complement a variety of liquors and spirits. Here are some of the best teas to use when making cocktails:
Green tea has earthy, vegetal, and slightly grassy flavors that work well in cocktails, especially with gin or vodka. The most popular green tea cocktail is a green tea gin fizz, which consists of gin, green tea, simple syrup, and club soda or sparkling water. The herbal flavors of gin pair nicely with green tea. You can also use green tea in a vodka martini for a subtle twist.
- Black Tea
Black tea is bold, robust, and often has notes of caramel or malt. These characteristics allow it to stand up well to dark liquors like rum, brandy, and whisky. A classic black tea cocktail is the Long Island Iced Tea, which combines vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, lemon juice, and cola with a splash of black tea. Earl Grey tea also works well in cocktails with its distinctive bergamot orange flavors.
- Oolong Tea
Smooth and fragrant oolong makes an excellent cocktail tea. Its floral and fruity aromas blend effortlessly into gin and vodka drinks. Try an oolong gin fizz with gin, oolong tea, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water for a refreshing and complex sip. Or make an oolong martini with vodka, dry vermouth, and a splash of oolong.
- Chai Tea
Chai tea contains warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. These flavors make chai a fantastic addition to fall and winter cocktails, especially with darker spirits. You can mix chai with bourbon or rum for a vanilla-and-spice flavored twist on traditional cocktails. For lighter drinks, blend chai with amaretto or vanilla vodka.
Sometimes called sour tea for its bright, tart flavor, hibiscus pairs extremely well with tequila and mezcal. Its cranberry-like taste beautifully complements the natural flavors of agave. Make a hibiscus margarita with tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and hibiscus tea for a floral twist. You can also use hibiscus tea to lend some tart fruitiness to rum punch.
- Masala Chai
For an Indian-inspired cocktail, try masala chai made with black tea, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper, and other warming spices. The complexity of masala chai enhances the flavors of dark rum for a creative take on a Dark & Stormy. Or accent scotch or bourbon with masala chai for a unique, sophisticated drink.
This finely powdered green tea has become popular for its bright green color and herbal, vegetal taste. Matcha works wonderfully in shaken or stirred cocktails as a unique coloring and flavoring agent. Shake or stir a matcha martini with vodka or gin, or add matcha to sparkling wine for an effervescent sake cocktail.
This Japanese green tea combines sencha with roasted brown rice for a deliciously toasty, nutty flavor. These nutty notes make genmaicha an excellent choice for blending into whisky cocktails like an old fashioned or Manhattan. The tea’s roasted flavor beautifully complements the caramel and vanilla in bourbon and other whiskies.
- Lapsang Souchong
This black tea gets its signature smoky flavor from being smoke-dried over pine. The smokiness of lapsang souchong means it pairs well with Scotch whisky, whether in cocktails or just on the rocks. Try lapsang souchong in a whisky smash with Scotch, lemon juice, and mint.
- Moroccan Mint
A blend of Chinese gunpowder green tea and peppermint, Moroccan mint tea infuses cocktails with refreshing minty flavors. Use it in creative mojitos by replacing the white rum with gin or vodka. Or try it instead of simple syrup in mint juleps or bourbon smashes. The minty tea adds unique complexity.
- Berry Infusions
Berry flavored teas like blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, and blackcurrant often work well in vodka cocktails. Their sweet fruity flavors complement the crisp taste of vodka. Shake berry tea with vodka, lemon juice, and ice for a fun twist on the traditional lemon drop. Or blend berry tea with fruit liquors and triple sec for a flirty sangria-like cocktail.
Many caffeine-free herbal teas can add pleasant new flavors to cocktails. Lemongrass, ginger, lavender, chamomile, rooibos, and other herbals all have potential. Lavender lemonades made with gin or vodka are particularly popular. Experiment by steeping herbs or flowers in simple syrup to use in teas and cocktails.
The wide range of flavors and varieties in tea opens up many intriguing possibilities when mixing teas and cocktails. Whether shaken, stirred, muddled, or simply added to mixed drinks, tea can put a unique spin on traditional cocktails. So, explore different tea and spirit combinations to concoct your own signature cocktail recipes. The right tea can enhance, complement, and bring exciting new dimensions to craft cocktails.