Down-to-Earth Tea Cocktail Recipes

Every nice drink begins with a plant, stated Drunken Botanist writer Amy Stewart. Since the daybreak of time, people have been making spirits from herbs, leaves, seeds, fruit, flowers, bark and roots. Pick your poison and chances are high it stems from the pure world, from bourbon to gin, or Campari and different bitters. Even widespread mixers like tonic water are comprised of cinchona bark, which dates again to the 16th century and remains to be used for medicinal functions like treating malaria.

Experts usually make the excellence between tea (which comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant) and herbals like lemon verbena or peppermint tea, which isn’t actually tea in any respect however an infusion of the peppermint leaf. From an excellent broader perspective, pure teas resembling Darjeeling or Sencha can be seen as botanicals, much like florals or spirits, every with its personal distinctive qualities, opening up worlds of chance for mixing tea with different liquids, and having fun with new taste combos.

I spoke with Jennie Ripps, writer of the newly printed Wise Cocktails and founding father of Brew Lab Tea, which creates customized tea blends and cocktails for resorts and eating places in New York. She can be founding father of the Owl’s Brew, a handmade tea mixer for cocktails with varieties like a basic English Breakfast with lemon and agave to Coco-Lada, a black tea with chai spices, pineapple and coconut that tends to pair nicely with rum and mezcal. Owl’s Brew has additionally been partnering with spirits makers like Scotland’s the Famous Grouse on drinks such because the Smoky Earl, primarily based on a mix of Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong that enhances the peatiness of the scotch, including a recent layer of smoke. Here’s what Jennie needed to say about her endeavors and the artwork of tea cocktails:

How did you first get into tea and the enterprise of blending tea cocktails?

The idea of infusion has all the time amazed me—that you would put leaves in water and truly find yourself with a scrumptious drink. I began out shopping for a number of tea and experimenting with brewing, first with scorching water, then chilly brewing. The well being advantages of tea additionally appealed to me. I acknowledged the disconnect between what some corporations known as tea, and what was truly in it. I’d hear folks say, “I love this jasmine tea.” But in the event you appeared on the tea, there wasn’t any precise jasmine in it. Or raspberry tea. Where was the raspberry? It grew to become essential to me to verify I used to be utilizing actual components. At the identical time, I seen that many eating places with extraordinary menus, together with wonderful espresso packages, had very restricted tea choices, usually simply luggage of Earl Grey and possibly a peppermint natural. One of the primary teas I blended was for the Hurricane Club in New York (now the Park Avenue Winter.) It was a looseleaf chai with coconut shreds; the flavors in it grew to become the premise for Owl’s Brew’s Coco-Lada. I quickly began mixing cocktails for events and different occasions with Wise Cocktails co-author Maria Littlefield, and located that individuals have been actually intrigued by tea cocktails. They liked how tea enhanced the flavors of their drinks.

How do you consider tea as an ingredient in cocktails?

Tea is a pure botanical that may add completely different flavors and layers of depth to a cocktail. For Owl’s Brew, we supply our teas from one of many largest tea importers within the U.S. and make the blends in Vermont, utilizing small batches of recent brewed tea. The nuances of explicit teas have a tendency to return by way of much less in a cocktail—what you need is the boldest and absolute best taste profile. You’re trying, say, for the inexperienced floral essence of a primary flush Darjeeling, or the sturdy smoky, earthiness you’d get from a robust Lapsang Souchong. You need the essence, not essentially the subtleties. It helps generally to step again, as if doing a blindfolded taste take a look at, asking your self what the predominant taste profile of the tea is, and the way it may work with different flavors. I’ve had the advantage of studying from skilled flavorists who’ve taught me some tips of the commerce. Chamomile, for instance, enhances the flavour of pineapple and may truly create an excellent stronger pineapple taste. When I work with eating places and resorts, I’ll usually get requests for seasonal drinks and am requested to develop recipes with earthy or woody notes for the colder months or florals for spring. Among them was a toasted oolong for New York’s French-Mediterranean bistro Claudette, with a greener, flippantly oxidized Tie Guan Yin oolong, in any other case referred to as Iron Goddess of Mercy, a inexperienced Kukicha filled with buttery, umami notes, and recent sage.

How do you consider the advantages of infusing spirits with tea versus brewing it for a mixer?

There are so many various methods to include tea in a drink, with advantages to every methodology. It actually simply is dependent upon what flavors you need ultimately. You might, for instance, take the time to infuse a vodka with Keemun black tea and roses, however you received’t essentially need to drink that straight up or on the rocks. It’d in all probability be a extra pure base for a cocktail. I consider tea as a modifier that may add depth and taste to a drink, in the identical approach that bitters may. It’s one other ingredient to experiment with, simply as you may use jasmine in a cocktail or jalapeno pepper. If you’re first experimenting with tea cocktails, you may take a look at out completely different strategies: infusing spirits, brewing your personal tea or pouring in some Owl’s Brew to see what you want finest. The recipes within the new guide supply completely different choices for making cocktails, utilizing the Owl’s Brew in some circumstances and home-brewed tea in others. Ask your self: how does this drink make me really feel? I encourage experimentation and having enjoyable.

One of Jennie’s favourite all-time cocktails is a smoky mezcal concoction from East Village bar Mayahuel, so I made a decision to provide Wise Cocktail’s Black and Blue a shot at residence to have fun Day of the Dead. Contributed by Bubby’s mixologist Chris Mitchell, it’s a refreshing mix of tart, smoky and tropical, with muddled blackberry, mezcal and Coco-Lada (see the complete recipe beneath.) Some different favorites are the Chocolate Arrow, made for a Valentine’s Day occasion on the Plaza Hotel. It’s a jazzy reinvention of tea on the Plaza by means of champagne, Kahlua and hojicha—a darkish roasted inexperienced tea with earthy, chocolate-y notes and the added aphrodisiac of actual vanilla bean. Jennie additionally creates smoothies and non-alcoholic tea sodas, like a chilled, immunity-boosting rosemary and thyme winter tonic, and has achieved an all-natural tackle Mountain Dew with inexperienced rooibos, chamomile and pineapple. Do learn extra about Wise Cocktails and the Owl’s Brew at however not earlier than making an attempt out these spirited brews.


Black & Blue

  • 6-Eight recent blackberries
  • 2 oz. mezcal
  • 1 oz. Owl’s Brew Coco-Lada
  • 1 egg white


In a shaker, muddle the blackberries. Add the mezcal, Coco-Lada, and egg white. Shake with ice. Strain and pour right into a glass.



047880_02_CHOC_ARROW_742Chocolate Arrow

Tea Base

Mix collectively in equal components and use 2 full teaspoons every:

  • Hojicha tea leaves
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Vanilla beans
  • Dried fig (diced)
  • Chai spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cloves)


  • three oz. brewed tea base
  • 1 oz. Kahlua
  • three oz. champagne
  • Agave (to taste)

Combine all of the tea base components in 6 oz. of room temperature water for 10 minutes, agitating sometimes. In a shaker, mix three oz. of the tea base, the Kahlua, and agave nectar. (You’ll have some tea base left over. Feel free to drink or discard.) Add ice to the shaker and gently swirl to sit back. Pour right into a glass. Add the Champagne and gently swirl once more.

047880_04_ROSEMARY_THYME_304Rosemary & Thyme

Simple Syrup

Tea Base

  • 1 ½ teaspoons inexperienced rooibos
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried lemon balm

Tea Soda

  • Tea base
  • 1 oz. easy syrup
  • 6 oz. glowing water

To make the easy syrup: Pour the water into pan and produce to a boil. Once the water boils, instantly stir within the sugar till the combination is evident. You’ll use only one oz. per soda. You can use both a tea linen or place the inexperienced rooibos, rosemary, thyme and lemon balm straight within the pan with the easy syrup. Let sit for 1 hour, stirring sometimes. Remove the sachet or pressure out the remaining components. Let the combination cool to room temperature. Pour 1 oz. of the tea base-infused syrup right into a glass over ice. Add 6 oz. of glowing water after which stir.

Jennie Ripps is the Founder and CEO of Owls’ Brew, a tea crafted for cocktails, and of sister firm, Brew Lab Tea, which focuses on creating artisanal customized tea blends.In 2014, she was chosen by the Specialty Food Association as “35 under 35”, amongst meals and beverage entrepreneurs. Jennie is a graduate of Cohort Seven of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program, and is a blogger for the Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” and “Taste” sections. She is the co-author of Wise Cocktails, printed by Rodale this October.

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