Tea plays an important role in a surprisingly wide range of alcoholic cocktails. In fact, the entire idea of modern iced black tea has its roots in a highly alcoholic green tea punch that dates to the 1830s. While the original recipes were limited by the types of teas that were available in a particular place or time, that is no longer the case. You might enjoy a complex herbal blend or a delicate white tea rather than a traditional green or black tea. With so many teas readily available today, we encourage you to experiment with recipes to find the balance that best suits your individual tastes.
Hot Tea Cocktails
Warm alcoholic tea concoctions are an excellent way to beat back the chill on a cold winter night, but also serve a soothing and relaxing purpose throughout the year. The key to a successful hot tea cocktail is to begin by making the tea and then add the other ingredients as it is steeping. Many of these drinks can be tweaked to create non-alcoholic “mocktail” versions as well.
- Hot Toddy: The hot toddy is arguably the most famous hot tea cocktail. A blend of tea, honey, lemon, and liquor, it is also one of the easiest to experiment with. Black and green teas are the most traditional, as they react well with the blend of honey and lemon to create a slightly sweet and sour note. However, virtually any type of tea could be used instead, especially if you tweak the amount of honey and lemon.
Whiskey, rum, and bourbon are the traditional liquors in a hot toddy, and each imparts its own unique flavors. However, there is no reason not to use gin, vodka, or any other liquor you prefer. Flavored alcohols can also enhance the taste, from spicy cinnamon to soothing apple.
To create a mock version, consider substituting apple juice, cranberry juice, or another flavored beverage for the liquor. You might need to tweak the amount of water in the recipe as well.
- Hot Tea Punch: Hot tea punches run the gamut of styles and flavors, but are always heavy on the aromatics. Rum and red wine form the base for a heady, festive winter punch, while cranberry juice and apple cider are excellent additions to a lighter springtime punch. Brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and cloves fit well into virtually any hot tea punch.
For a non-alcoholic mocktail, substitute dark grape juice for red wine, use non-alcoholic cider, or choose molasses with nuts or rum extract instead of rum. You might need to fine-tune the amount of aromatics you use, as non-alcoholic versions tend to be lighter overall.
- Chai Drinks: If you are familiar with Chai tea, you know that its spicy blend of flavorings pairs best with milk and sugar. Therefore, it is a natural choice for creamy hot beverages featuring Baileys, Kahlua, or other rich liquor choices. Be careful how much sugar you add, as these alcohols are already sweet. To get a mocktail approximation of this, stick to traditional Chai tea with milk and sugar, and add a spoonful of your favorite flavoring extract.
Iced Tea Cocktails
Iced tea cocktails are refreshing on a summer afternoon, and can be an excellent pick-me-up at any time of year. In these cocktails, the tea serves as a bold background flavor, so avoid choosing very delicate teas that might be overwhelmed. It is important to steep the tea using traditional warm methods to bring forth its natural flavors, and then thoroughly chill it in the refrigerator, freezer, or in an ice bath before mixing your cocktail.
- Iced Tea Punch: The iced tea punch helped to spawn an iced tea revolution in the United States, and with good reason. Cold and refreshing, iced tea punches can be as simple or as complex as you prefer. Green tea is the traditional base, but there is no reason not to choose black tea or your favorite herbal blend instead. Focus on light alcohols such as vodka for an airy daytime punch, or add rum or bourbon for a more dramatic concoction. Lemonade, lime juice, or other citrus beverages are often added for complexity and to cut some of the alcohol.
A nonalcoholic version can be just as tasty as a punch with alcohol. Choose a bold tea, add multiple citrus juices, and top it off with a spoonful of flavoring extract or an herbal-infused simple syrup. Don’t forget to garnish with some fresh sliced fruit.
- Flavored Iced Teas: Flavored alcoholic teas are extraordinarily popular and easy to make. For examples, with a bit of bourbon and fresh mint, you can turn your tea into a less-strong mockup of a mint julep. Flavored alcohols, strong aromatics, and fresh fruits can be combined in innumerable ways to create unique flavor blends.
Mocktail versions feature the same tea, aromatics, and fresh fruits, but leave out the alcohol. They are generally sweeter and less bitter than the alcoholic version, but otherwise taste very similar. Perhaps the best-known non-alcoholic example is the Arnold Palmer, which is simply half-tea and half-lemonade served over ice.
- Iced Chai Drinks: Like their hot counterparts, iced Chai drinks marry the spicy flavors of Chai tea with their natural affinity for sugar and milk. Any milky liqueur can substitute for the milk, or you can simply add a splash of your favorite liquor to a traditionally prepared cold Chai tea. For a nonalcoholic version, add a bit of flavoring extract instead.
Alcoholic tea drinks have been an important part of tea culture since its earliest days. Like all aspects of tea enjoyment, it is filled with rich possibilities for exploration and experimentation. Take the time to try different combinations of teas, alcohols, and other ingredients, and you are sure to develop a personal favorite blend or two.
At Global Tea Mart, we hope to become your online home for all aspects of the world of tea. If we can be of assistance in any way, please do not hesitate to call us at 888-209-4223. We look forward to being a part of your journey!