Adding tea to your cocktails is really easy to do and makes for a unique beverage to serve at your next get together. It seems counter intuitive to blend together tea, a beverage associated with health and mental clarity, with alcohol, which is associated with the exact opposite characteristics. However,opposites can and do blend well together. Keep in mind, the British have been putting tea in their alcoholic punches dating back to the 1700’s.
History of Tea and Alcohol
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a little bit of the history around tea and alcohol. In China, the two rarely mixed. While the Chinese have been making alcohol, starting with beer from millet for over 9,000 years, it was consumed differently than tea. Beer was produced because straight water could not be trusted for consumption. Tea was consumed as part of a religious and health ritual, it was not really seen as a replacement for water. That may be because it came on the scene much later than beer.
Interestingly tea came onto the wider cultural scene just as alcohol consumption in China was thought to be at its highest. The consumption of tea was thought to be the highest level of sophistication. In order to gain the favor of the emperor, much of the upper class abandoned alcohol for tea. The Tang dynasty (790-835 CE) saw the rise of the tea culture in upper society, replacing the beers,wines and grain alcohols that had been consumed previously. Alcohol became so frowned upon that wine making disappeared from the upper parts of Chinese society until it was reintroduced by the Portuguese and British in the early 1800’s. Tea quickly got added to alcohol by sailors on the trading vessels. Beer would go bad during the trip, and once it did, it was turned into punch with other spices and tea added to hide the off flavor of the beer. As an American, who takes my clean water for granted, it is hard to imagine that beer was the primary drink for sailors, but without clean water, beer was the safest beverage to consume.
Earl Grey Tea Cocktail Recipes
Flavor infused vodkas have become popular over the past couple of years and it is super easy to infuse your favorite vodka with tea. The first rule to remember, if you won’t drink the tea don’t put it in the vodka.
Earl Grey Vodka
1 tablespoon loose leaf Earl Grey tea
Combine both ingredients together in a container and allow to sit for 8 hours before tasting to ensure you have the flavor you want. If you chose to use a tea bag instead, cut down the time to 2-3 hours,otherwise you end up with bitter vodka. Feel free to substitute other black teas for the Earl Grey. If they are flavored or blended with other spices, you may want to check at the 4-6 hour mark to see if you have the flavor you desire.
So now that we have a nice base for the cocktails, it is time for a few drink recipes.
Earl Grey Martini (Serves 2)
4 oz of Earl Grey Iced Tea
2 oz of Earl Grey tea infused vodka
1 tsp of Agave Nectar (this can be substituted for 1 tsp of Simple Syrup)
Mix the three ingredients together and then serve in a martini glass. Garnish with a slice of orange or orange peel, if you wish.
Earl Grey Tonic (Serves 2)
4 oz of Earl Grey Iced Tea
4 oz of Earl Grey tea infused vodka
3 oz Tonic Water
Pour the vodka into a highball glass over ice cubes. Then pour in the iced tea,followed by the tonic water. Stir and serve. If you want something extra special, make ice cubes using earl grey ice tea.
Note: If you are fine with a little less Earl Grey flavor, you can replace the iced tea with the tonic water.
There are many more recipes you could make with your Earl Grey tea infused vodka. So feel free to play and share your favorite recipes with us.