Tea is often described as a soothing beverage when served hot. It's touted as thirst-quenching when served cold over ice. Perhaps not as well-known is the fact that tea is an ideal ingredient to add flavor to cocktails.
“It’s fun to use tea to spice up spirits like a clean rum or vodka because it gives them dimension,” said Jane Danger, New York City mixologist and beverage director at Cienfuegos and Mother of Pearl. “Tea is very versatile. You can infuse a gin with tea or make syrup out of it. It’s the perfect setting for cocktails.”
Danger enjoys creating cocktails with Teavana® teas because of their quality and variety.
“I received several samples of Teavana tea and tasted them side by side with different spirits to see what would happen,” Danger added.
With the winter season in full swing, Danger offers recipes for making tea cocktails at home and adding new flavors to holiday cocktail parties.
“When I teach people how to create their own cocktails, a good rule of thumb is to start with the less expensive ingredients first,” said Danger, who has worked in prominent bars and restaurants for the past 11 years. “If a mistake happens, then you haven’t used your best, most expensive ingredients.”
Danger recommends starting with citrus, a dash of bitters or other ingredients you need to muddle. Next add syrups and sweeteners, plus any modifiers, such as a fruit-flavored liqueur. Finally, add a base spirit like vodka, gin or tequila.
“You can’t take things out of a drink, but you can add ingredients in to adjust, so it’s good to take it step by step,” she added.
Get Ready to Celebrate
The winter season is a time for hosting holiday parties at home. Danger recommends serving cocktails with nostalgic flavors.
“Eggnog or brandy and rum-based drinks with baking spices and nutmeg are ideal,” she said. “Pumpkin and spice flavors actually carry through into the winter. Any beverage with apple, cranberry, pear and warming spices are great as well.”
Pairing tea cocktails with food is similar to pairing wine with food.
“I like the rounder, brighter, fruitier cocktails to pair with meat dishes. Those with bright acidity are best to cut through fatty foods,” said Danger. “In general, the more acidic cocktails go with heavier foods and the lighter ones go with desserts.”
The best way to pull off a great party is to start preparing for the day well in advance.
“There are many things you can do even a week beforehand,” she said. “Make syrups or infusions and let them set in your refrigerator.”
Danger loves the taste of ginger and is a fan of Teavana® Gingerbread Black Tea. To create a Gingerbread Fizz, she starts by making a concentrated syrup using Teavana® tea, rock sugar and hot water before adding seasonal whiskeys and lemon.
“Apple brandy and rye round out the beverage and provide those autumnal and wintery notes that your guests will be looking for and will love,” Danger added.
Gingerbread Fizz Recipe
- 1 ounce Gingerbread Black Tea Syrup
- ¾ ounce apple brandy
- ¾ ounce rye
- ¾ ounce lemon
To make the Gingerbread Black Tea Syrup, combine 8 ounces hot water, 8 ounces Belgian Perfectea® Rock Sugar and 1 ounce Teavana® Gingerbread Black Tea. Stir until Belgian ® Rock Sugar is dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes and then fine strain. Build ingredients in a cocktail shaking tin. Shake and strain into a Collins glass with large ice cubes. Top with a splash of club soda, cherry and orange flag with star anise on top. For a hot beverage, add 4 ounces of water and heat.
Ruby Spice Glogg
Danger will add a Ruby Spice Glogg made with Teavana® Ruby Spice Cider Tea Blend to the menu at Cienfuegos for a limited time over the holidays starting next week. Following is a recipe for this drink to make at home.
Ruby Spice Glogg Recipe
- 5 ounces red wine
- 1 ounce Ruby Spice Cider Tea Syrup:
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce Jamaican rum
- ½ ounce cognac
- ½ ounce Curaçao
To make the Ruby Spice Cider Tea Syrup, combine 8 ounces hot water, 8 ounces Belgian Perfectea® Rock Sugar, and 1 ounce Teavana® Ruby Spice Cider Tea Blend. Stir until Belgian ® Rock Sugar is dissolved. Let sit for 10 minutes and then fine strain. Heat all ingredients together, garnish with cinnamon grated on top, star anise, and a clove-studded lemon wheel.
Photos by Albert Cheung
Jane Danger was compensated for her contribution.