One of the hottest new trends with bartenders and cafe owners is using tea in unconventional beverages that surprise and delight the senses. From infusing teas directly into spirits to pairing cold brewed teas with juices and nitrogen infused cold brews, tea can be used in many innovative and exciting ways.
Here are 5 iced beverages you didn’t know could be made with tea:
1. Spiced Negroni
This iconic Italian cocktail is often served with a twist at the some of world’s best cocktail bars. The traditional recipe comprises of one part gin, one part vermouth, and one part Campari, but an exciting and easy array of flavours can be added with the introduction of tea.
Make your classic Negroni recipe in advance and then add whole cinnamon sticks and Lipton English Breakfast teabags (1 per serving). Leave to steep for 24 hours, after which you will be left with a delicate tea spiced Negroni—perfect for serving with a twist of orange peel to garnish, and perhaps a whole star anise!
2. Nitro Cold Brew
One of the newest trends in the beverage world is cold brew infused with nitrogen. A few years ago, cold brew coffee was given the nitrogen treatment, creating a foamy beverage usually served on tap (like beer!). Now, creative producers experiment with other cold brews like nitro matcha and almond milk, nitro turmeric and yuzu, and nitro peach jasmine tea. Similar effects can be achieved by infusing nitrogen into fresh brewed teas.
3. Flavoured Spirits
Michelin guide-listed cocktail bar Native in Singapore focuses on local and foraged ingredients and uses innovative techniques. Owner Vijay Mudaliar lists tea as one of his favourite ways to introduce flavour to his drinks.
They distil their own in-house gins, using interesting and unique botanicals. “Tea distillates are a great way of adding a different flavour,” says Vijay. “We use matcha as one of the botanicals for our house gin—it adds a strong matcha flavour and a creamy mouthfeel.”
At home, an easy way to make your own flavoured liquors is to simply infuse your chosen tea into them. Starting with a mild flavoured white spirit, such as vodka or a gin with few botanicals. Add 3–4 teabags of a suitable tea, like Lipton’s Green Tea with Jasmine. After 12–24 hours, remove the teabags and voila! You’ll have a delicate and exciting infused alcohol to spice up your cocktail repertoire.
4. Sparkling Sodas
Sparkling sodas can be a refreshing beverage when it’s hot. Using a tea base (instead of a flavoured sugar syrup) is a great way to add taste but keep the drink healthy. Chilled teas can be blended with a little juice and sparkling water to create a spritzer.
Traditional sangria is made with wine, juices, brandy and sugar, but a refreshing twist on this cooling drink is to replace some or all of the juices with iced tea instead. This results in a crisper and easier to drink beverage, with the ability to add interesting flavours by simply choosing a different tea.
White wine Sangria can be made with a chilled green tea base, introducing delicate and refreshing flavour notes; while the tannic flavours of black tea are a perfect partner for red wine based Sangrias.