Why Tea-Based Cocktails Are The New Friday Night Happy Hour
Jan 12, 2023
Every year sees a new wave of cocktail trends from reenvisioned retro drinks and a boom in ultra-premium tequila estate stories. Every trending cocktail list in 2023 had an entry for the “clean” or low alcohol version of the classics as well as plant-based additions. So, can tea be the magical unicorn ingredient that gets us buzzed at cocktail hour?
It might not have been what the Buddhist Monks or ancient tea masters of India had in mind. Still, tea-based cocktails bring an earthy sophistication to Friday nights all over your city, and we aren’t talking about the perennial hangover maker, the Long Island Iced Tea. Instead, we’re speaking of the classy single estate tea variety that elevates the drinker's experience.
The Alchemist Magazine tells us about cocktail trends:
“The desire to explore and discover is more prevalent than ever,” says Jones. “That means under explored spirits and less-familiar cocktail designs are getting the chance to be experienced again—or for the first time.”
Not only do teas come in a wide array of flavor profiles, but they also have some incredible medicinal qualities that can help you escape the dreaded Saturday morning hangover.
Why Tea Makes A Great Cocktail Ingredient
For many reasons, tea makes a great cocktail ingredient, and we will plead our case for the tea-based cocktail below.
An Abundance of Flavor Profiles
Tea Makes A Complimentary Base
Tea is a team player that doesn’t overpower any other ingredient. It works well with almost any liquor while adding but not overpowering the cocktail's flavor profile.
Teas Make A Great Talking Point
Whether at a luxurious cocktail bar or a private dinner party, tea is an exciting ingredient sure to stir up conversation and a renewed appreciation for this versatile cocktail.
Perhaps one of its most significant selling points, teas are a natural diuretic that helps your body process and eliminates alcohol more rapidly. This means it has less time in your system to cause digestive unrest, headaches, or the lethargy associated with a next-day hangover!
Tea-Based Cocktail Inspiration
Tea mixology is where the tea sommelier and the bartender diverge. Where over steeping is the ultimate sin of usual brewing practices, in mixology, this can create interestingly bold, tannic, and roasted flavor profiles.
Cocktails featuring tea have been so big this past year that major spirit companies have released their own favorite takes on this new trend.
Tea-focused cocktail menus are easy to curate when you know your tea flavor profiles. We’ve broken down some inspiration for tea mixology below by different tea types and each spirit company's recipe to take your tea cocktail making to the next level.
Earl Grey Tea Cocktails
Liquor or Spirit: Infused Vodka or Gin
Try: Craft Gin Club’s Earl Grey Martini
With its moody bergamot and sometimes grapefruit citrus notes, as well as its rich Assam black tea base, Earl Grey makes a great martini addition. It is floral meets infused gin in a classy glass.
Black Tea Cocktails
Liquor or Spirit: Malt Whiskey, Scotch, or Aged Rum
Try: St George Spirits Tee Time High Ball
Black tea makes a bold and distinctive cocktail and is best intermingled with smokey liquor.
Chai Spiced Tea Cocktail
Tea: Masala Chai
Liquor or Spirit: Chipotle Tequila
Try: Tanteo Tequila’s Chai Spiced Chipotle Cocktail
Chai spiced teas are highly versatile in a cocktail format and add instant interest to any creation. The warm masala spices can transform an otherwise single-note cocktail into an exotic new drink.
Green Tea Cocktail
Tea: Single Estate Organic Darjeeling Green Tea
Liquor or Spirit: Whiskey
Try: Johnny Walker’s Green Tea Highball
Green teas make a great way to add subtle interest to a high ball or vodka-based drink. Adding mint, pineapple, or lemongrass garnishes can help layer the flavors and create a stand-out cocktail.