If you are a tea lover, but find the idea of sipping on a hot cuppa in these sultry summer months unappetizing, here’s how you can still gate a fix of your favourite brew ———— USE IT IN A COCKTAIL.
Tea pairs remarkably well with white spirits like vodka, white rum, gin, tequila (silver & gold) and a lighter whisky like Jameson (or a bourbon) can also be infused, but one has to keep in mind the type of tea one is planning to use. Earl Grey, which is a strong black tea, when blended with citrus flavours like oranges, pairs especially well with bourbon and a green tea is a perfect match for gin.
There are various teas which are traditionally sipped warm, but when infused and blended with the right kind of spirit, can also be enjoyed cold. For example, Oolong, Chamomile, Hibiscus are some very interesting flavours of tea which can give a unique taste to your cocktail.
If you’re planning a refreshing afternoon or welcome drink surprise for your guests, the thumb rule is that a properly brewed, flavoured tea marries well with distilled spirits. If you have some time to prepare, you can also leave some tea bags in the alcohol bottle itself and let the spirit pick its flavours or make a simple syrup infused with tea leaves.
You do need to keep in mind that blending too many ingredients could result in losing out on the flavour of the original tea, and also deprive you of the health properties that it adds to your drink. Also, ideally, a cocktail is supposed to leave you refreshed, and if you are having a couple of them on a lazy afternoon, you don’t want it to be too heavy to make you drowsy, or give you a hangover.
Natural ingredients and unconventional infusions are the latest trends in the cocktail world, and bartenders are pushing the envelope with molecular cocktails, using local/natural ingredients when mixing drinks, such as aloe vera, amla, elderberry flowers, wheat grass. Natural flavours like lavender, hibiscus are used to flavour simple syrups, so there’s a lot happening there.
Here are a few cocktail and mocktail ideas to try along with a tea infusion.
(1) MAGICAL TEAPOT : This is a chilled chai latte with gin and pomegranate , with syrup. You can serve it in a tea pot, with dry ice to give the effect of a warm drink.
(2) OP-YUM : A combination of ire and smoke. This is a refreshing combination of whisky Campari, orange juice and chamomile tea, which leaves a smoky after-tone on your palate. Chamomile tea is brewed in a glass. Once it is lightly brewed, we add a shot of whisky and Campari, top it up with ice, and serve with the tea bag still at the bottom of the glass. As time passes, the tea keeps oozing out its flavours and adds freshness with a tangy, smoky flavour in between the sips.
(3) INDIAN ICED TEA : This is a simple version of iced tea but with some yummy flavours. Assam tea is brewed to perfection and then poured over ice till it cools off. More ice is then added to this concoction with fresh citrus juices and passion fruit syrup. Serve it chilled in a tall glass.
—- Satish Fernandes.