Iced tea is refreshing on a hot summer day, but it usually leaves something to be desired ― namely booze. The following tea cocktails add flavor and fun to any sunny afternoon on the porch.
First: A Tea Cocktail How-To
Just like any good drink, tea cocktails rely on your ability to combine high-quality ingredients using the proper techniques and equipment. Just like you wouldn’t dare use bottom-shelf bourbon to make your Dad an Old Fashioned, you should avoid skimping on the ingredients for the following tea cocktails.
It should go without saying that a bleached bag of Lipton’s won’t do; instead, you should be purchasing from a reputable purveyor of exceptional teas, like BuddhaTeas.com. It is equally important that you brew the tea properly, which is likely more difficult than you think. Here’s a simple step-by-step for the perfect cup:
- Pour freshly drawn cold water into the kettle.
- Remove kettle once water reaches a gentle boil.
- Pour hot water into teapot, and then pour out.
- Place tea leaves in teapot.
- Allow water in kettle to cool slightly, and then add to teapot.
- Steep for recommended amount of time.
- Strain out tea leaves, and enjoy.
Using water that is too hot or steeping for too long will produce bitter, foul-tasting tea, which will only ruin your refreshing cocktail. You need both the right tea and the right technique to succeed with the following recipes.
This boozy version of an Arnold Palmer is sweet, tart, and tasty. The original recipe simply adds vodka to a mixture of lemonade and iced tea, but this variation uses a lemon-flavored vodka, like Grey Goose’s Le Citron, for more flavor. For six servings, you’ll need the following:
- 6 ounces hot water
- 4 bags black tea
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 12 ounces lemon-flavored vodka
Steep the tea in the hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, and then mix in the honey. Chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes before adding the lemon juice and vodka. Top with ice and serve.
Spicy and warming ― despite being chilled ― the Jim Dandy is not a famous cocktail, but it should be. This cocktail is just as good on a summer evening as it is in the dead of winter. To make a pitcher for six, you’ll need the following:
- 3 ounces hot water
- 2 bags chai tea
- 12 ounces spiced rum
- 18 ounces ginger beer
- 6 ounces pear juice
- The juice of 3 limes
- 3 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger
- 12 dashes of bitters
Steep the chai tea in the water for 5 minutes, and allow it to cool completely. Fill a pitcher halfway with ice, and then pour in the spiced rum, ginger beer, juices, ginger, and tea. Top with the bitters, and stir to mix.
Golden Jasmine Martini
Summer is when the jasmine blooms, and the aroma is so intoxicating you probably wish you could drink it up. With this tea cocktail, you definitely can. For six servings, you’ll need the following:
- 3 bags jasmine green tea
- 6 ounces hot water
- 3.5 ounces vodka or gin
- 1 tablespoon honey
Chill your martini glasses in the freezer for at least a half-hour. Steep the jasmine green tea in the water for 5 minutes, and then stir in the honey. Pour the mixture into a cocktail shaker over ice and add the vodka or gin. Shake well, and strain into martini glasses for serving.
Chamomile Tequila Sour
Tequila has a strong flavor ― especially high-quality tequilas like Fortaleza Blanco ― which makes it the perfect partner for sweet, mild chamomile tea. Unlike most tequila drinks, this one is meant to be sipped slowly and serenely on a still summer evening. To make enough for six, you’ll need the following:
- 4 bags chamomile tea
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 6 ounces lime juice
- 10 ounces tequila
- 1/2 cup salt
Heat water and sugar until boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and steep the chamomile tea in the syrup for 30 minutes. Remove the tea, and allow mixture to cool. In a pitcher, combine the chamomile syrup, lime juice, and tequila. Rim serving glasses with salt, pour in the cocktail, and enjoy.
Earl Grey Gin
One of the few varieties of tea that Americans can name, Earl Grey has a cachet as distinctive as its flavor. This cocktail will give you a noticeable energy boost even as the warm summer sun lulls you to sleep. For six servings, you’ll need the following:
- 36 ounces water
- 6 bags Earl Grey tea
- 7 1/2 ounces gin
- 7 1/2 ounces simple syrup
- 3 ounces lemon juice
Steep the tea for five minutes, then remove bags and chill the tea in the fridge. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, and stir well. Pour into individual glasses over ice, and serve.