Cup that cheers: Cocktail recipes that every tea lover must know

An age-old aromatic beverage, tea is fast becoming a versatile ingredient for cocktails. Presenting a few cocktail recipes that every tea lover must know.

tea drinks
Before trying these recipes, it’s interesting to know why tea is distinct from other beverages.

A versatile beverage in the kitchen as well as the bar, tea is not just consumed as a hot brew worldwide but also relished as an ingredient in a super-smooth sweet or sour cocktail. That’s why the best cocktail infusions come handy on tea bar menus in refreshing flavours for a perfect Sunday sundowner.

Before trying these recipes, it’s interesting to know why tea is distinct from other beverages. It is mellow, light, and despite a strong character, it gels well with any beverage without changing the character of the drink. “Tea lends its flavour beautifully to cocktails and serves as a wonderful base for subtle and refreshing cocktails,” says Yangdup Lama, co-founder of Sidecar and Cocktails & Dreams, Speakeasy. Currently, Sidecar is Number 47 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars 2021 and Number 14 on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022.

In fact, tea experts find the combination of tea and alcohol appropriate. As this combination dates back to the 17th-century colonial era, the fondness for the tea-drinking culture was associated with tea punches popular in the British high-tea era when the beverage was an essential ingredient to give it a rich body and texture. “From pirate ships to revelry during special occasions, tea in those days, combined with alcohol, packed a punch. Its mild fragrant flavours and aromas, especially the orthodox ones, are a perfect foil for revitalising a cocktail,” says tea taster Madhav Sarda, managing director, Golden Tips Tea. Sarda feels teas and tisanes (combination of herbs and flowers) make a great beverage.

In many parts of southeast Asia, the tea trend has evolved to create a unique culture found nowhere else in the world, including tea cocktails that are all the rage. “Since tea is one of the highest consumed drinks in the world, most people’s palates are developed for this kind of flavour in cocktails. In recent times, gin and tea sparked interest as a refreshing contrast to fizzy alternatives. In hot and humid climates like India, tea acts as a soothing mixer,” says Shuchir Suri, founder of Jade Forest, a premium beverage brand that offers a blend of teas, fruits and herbs that go well by itself and also great in cocktails.

Hampta Sunset by WelcomHotel Sheraton New Delhi

— In a brandy balloon, add 120 ml hot water, 30 ml dry gin, 20 ml jaggery syrup and 30 ml apple juice. Jaggery syrup is a good source of iron. Melt it on low heat and stir occasionally to enhance the consistency. Allow the mixture to cool
— Top up with chamomile tea prepared in a separate pot by using chamomile tea bags
— Add rosemary and cucumber as garnish

The Nihon Cha by Chef Tarun Sibal, Chatter House

Japanese whiskey combined with orange bitters and fresh herbs for earthy aroma and topped with homemade Japanese sencha tea syrup

— Suntory Whisky Toki: 60 ml
— Orange bitter: Dash
— Homemade sencha tea syrup: 20 ml
— Garnish with dehydrated orange: 1 piece
— Serve on the rocks in an old fashioned glass

Tea Cocktail by Jade Forest

— Use 10 ml of your choice of spirit (gin, whiskey, vodka, tequila or others)
— Use Jade Forest premium iced tea (mixer)
— Use ice cubes as per liking
— Stir and pour

Duchais by Rohil Kalita, bartender, Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru

Reminiscent of rolling hills of Assam with malty notes from the Assam tea, fresh fruit, and spice notes from the pear and pepper, the cocktail is called ‘Duchais’ (pronounced ‘do khushh’), meaning homeland in Gaelic

— Chill your highball glass
— Put one clear shard of ice
— Charge Homeland Soda premix
— Pour 45ml JW Black Label into glass
— Pour 135ml Homeland Soda
— Garnish the drink with a pear tuile
— Homeland Soda is a premixed soda with fresh pear juice, Assam tea, jaiur or szechuan peppers

Green Tea Highball by Madhav Sarda, tea taster & MD, Golden Tips Tea

— Brew 60 ml of Golden Tips Emerald Organic Green Tea and let it cool down for 30 mins
— Add 60 ml Yamazaki whisky to glass
— Pour the brewed green tea and sugar syrup (1-2 tbsp) to the whisky
— Add chilled club soda, ice cubes and mint leaves for garnishing

Lutyen’s by Yangdup Lama, co-founder, Sidecar

— Infuse second-flush Darjeeling tea or Makaibari summer solstice tea with JW Black Label for 3 hours
— Add 50 ml tea infused JW Black Label and 20 ml of homemade licorice cordial, and stir until chilled
— Top up with soda and serve with a long spear of ice
— Garnish with a seasonal skeleton leaf

Smokey Tryst by Angad Singh Gandhi, brand ambassador, Glenfiddich

— Infuse Firdaus Anandini Himalayan tea to 60 ml Glenfiddich (12 yo) and add to a decanter
— Add applewood smoke to the decanter
— Take a glass, add a big chunk of ice and slowly pour the mixture in
— Garnish with a dehydrated orange slice

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