If you've been associating tea and cocktails with two entirely different times of day, you've been seriously missing out. While both beverages can serve their individual purposes, the combination of the two results in a game changer. Tea cocktails are the drink your happy hour has been missing -- and shockingly, they aren't exactly a new innovation.
People have been using tea in mixed drinks since the 18th century Europe. Sailors at the time were known to hoard crates of tea to protect against viruses at sea -- and often got crafty with their excess. "Naval punch" was a mix of spirits, sugar or molasses, and a brew of green or black tea.
Since the time of the OG European sailors, there have been many evolutions of the tea cocktail. Tea cocktails have quickly become known as a sophisticated beverage for all cocktail fanatics to enjoy.
We're here to share how you can make the best tea cocktails right at home to truly be the host(ess) with the most(ess).
What You Need
There are three basic components to making the perfect loose leaf tea cocktails:
Loose Leaf Tea: Loose leaf tea doesn’t come in bags, but instead “loose” inside of a larger container that you portion out into your beverage.
Mosi Tea makes several different blends of loose leaf tea that pair perfectly with your favorite liquors.
Liquor: Unless you're going for a non-alcoholic tea cocktail, you're going to want to ready yourself with your favorite liquor.
While you can get creative with your spirit choice, lighter spirits tend to do a better job of revealing the tea's flavor.
- The Flavor-Packers: The best cocktails pack in the best flavors. For acidity and an extra bite, citrus juice or bitters are often paired with tea cocktails. For sweetness, simple syrup, sugar or honey are often added.
Why Loose Leaf Is Better for Cocktails
Because loose leaf tea isn't already measured out in tea bags, you have much more control over how much tea goes into your cocktail -- which is crucial for the legitimate bartenders.
Sure, tea bags are convenient, but with loose leaf tea, you have a say on how strong of a tea flavor your cocktail will have.
Loose leaf tea is also known to brew a more flavorful tea than its bagged counterpart.
Which Spirits Pair Best With Teas in General
Generally, lighter liquor is the best for teas. Alcohol should help reveal more of your tea’s flavor, not cover it up, so go for spirits that don’t have a lot of their own flavor.
Some teas and liquors may complement each other’s flavors, especially those with fruit blends. If you're a fan of dark liquor, it's recommended that you also go for a bolder tea, like a black tea or Earl Grey.
There are three different approaches to making loose leaf cocktails. Here is an overview of each:
1. Brewing Tea First
This approach is the easiest of the three. You simply use whatever tea you brewed beforehand for your cocktail. Having brewed tea means you have a great base ready to mix with your spirits.
Just add twice the volume of your tea to alcoholic spirits (or adjust as needed), and you have a cocktail!
If you're making a spirit-free drink, you can also use pre-brewed tea as the base. This helps achieve a similar mouthfeel to an alcohol-based cocktail, without adding any of the alcohol.
2. Creating a Tea Syrup
This slightly more complicated method involves steeping your loose tea into concentrated syrups. These syrups help the flavor of the tea really stand out, even against the main spirit.
All you need to do is strain your extra-concentrated brewed tea into sugar in equal parts to make a simple syrup.
3. Infused Spirits
This advanced approach involves steeping your tea directly into your alcoholic beverage of choice. Because alcohol is a solvent, it's a great base for a tea-flavored infusion without needing the extra sweetness of a simple syup.
All you have to do to make an infused spirit is steep some tea leaves in a few ounces of spirit, like a Scotch with Earl Grey.
Which Types of Teas Pair Best With Which Types of Spirits
Consider the flavors of your components when pairing teas with spirits. Then, see if you want to balance or amplify a certain flavor. Here is a simple guide:
- Black Tea: fruity and earthy
- White Tea: light and clean
- Green Tea: vegetal and grassy
- Oolong Tea: floral and sweet
- Rum: sweet and dry
- Whiskey: smoky and malty
- Bourbon: sweet like vanilla and caramel
- Gin: floral
- Vodka: spicy
A Few Very Basic Recipes for Tea Cocktails
Now that you have an idea of the best tea and liquor combinations, how about you try some actual tea recipes? Here are five loose leaf tea cocktail recipes you can make at home with ingredients that might already be in your pantry.
Chai and Rum
If you can find loose leaf Masala chai tea, like Mosi's Masala Chai, we recommend mixing it with some rum to bring out the spicy flavor of the tea.
You will need:
- 2 ounces Mosi Masala Chai tea, steeped heavily
- 1½ ounces rum
- ½ ounces pure maple syrup
- Cinnamon sticks
What to do:
- Steep chai tea heavily.
- Mix in rum and maple syrup with a cinnamon stick.
- Leave the cinnamon stick in the drink for garnish (optional).
Orange Spice Tea, Mixed Berries and Champagne
There’s a good reason why confectionary chefs might add champagne to their desserts. This drink tends to taste fruity, making it ideal for baked goods. It’s also great to add to sweet, mixed berry blend teas that you might have on hand.
You will need:
- 1 ounce Mosi's Orange Spice Tea, steeped.
- 3 ounces champagne (can substitute with sparkling wine)
- Frozen berries
- Fresh berries, sliced
What to do:
- Combine equal parts of water and sugar.
- Bring sugar and water to a boil.
- Add Mosi’s Orange Spice Tea to the syrup.
- Steep tea for five minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Place frozen berries in a glass (to serve as ice cubes)
- Add one ounce of the cooled mixed berry blend tea syrup into the glass.
- Add the champagne (or sparkling wine).
- Garnish with sliced fresh berries.
Earl Grey and Gin
Adding this alcoholic spirit helps bring the earl grey flavor to the front, enhancing the tea’s natural floral flavors.
You will need:
- 1 ounce Mosi's Earl Grey tea, brewed
- 3 ounces gin
- Lavender sprigs
What to do:
- Brew earl grey tea.
- Heat honey and water until dissolved.
- Cool syrup in the fridge.
- Add brewed tea, syrup, and gin in a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Shake and strain cocktail into a glass.
- Garnish cocktail with a lavender sprig.
Green Tea and Mint Cocktail
What You Need:
- 1 tsp Mosi Green Mint loose leaf tea
- 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
- 2-inch strips orange zest
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped mint, plus sprigs for serving
- 1 shot of gin
- 2 shots of fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wheels for serving
How to Make:
1. Fill the sieve with Mosi Green Mint Tea and then secure it to the lid.
2. Place the mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a cocktail shaker or large metal cup or bowl. Using a wooden cocktail muddler or unfinished wooden spoon, gently mash the mint 3 to 4 times to release the juices and to combine it with the sugar.
3. Add mint leaves, sugar, lemon juice, lemon wheels, ginger, orange zest and a shot of gin to the infuser and attach the lid to the infuser.
4. Add boiling water to the infuser through the spout.
5. Switch up the lock and flip the infuser upside down. Steep for 3 minutes.
6. Flip it right side up and set aside with the lid open to cool for at least 5 minutes. Add ice cubes.
7. Shake your Mosi infuser. Enjoy!
Japanese Matcha and Whiskey
Matcha’s vegetal, slightly bitter taste creates a complex sweet and savory flavor. In just under ten minutes, you can make a matcha highball for you and your guests at your next tea party.
You will need:
- ¼ tsp Mosi's Vanilla Matcha powder
- 2 ounces Japanese whiskey
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- Lemon slices
- ½ honey syrup
- 4 ounces carbonated water
What to do:
- Prepare a cocktail shaker.
- Combine matcha powder, Japanese whiskey, lemon juice, and honey syrup in the cocktail shaker, shaking thoroughly.
- Pour mixture into a glass with ice.
- Pour carbonated water into the cocktail shaker and shake to loosen any leftover matcha powder in the shaker.
- Pour carbonated water into the glass and stir.
- Garnish with lemon slices.
Tea cocktails are easy and versatile recipes to try at home! With the right ingredients and materials, you can show off your drink mixing skills at any gathering. Try making loose leaf cocktails with Mosi’s tea infuser to simplify the process even further.