Tea Infused Spirits:

by: Katie Herman The market for specialty tea has been on the rise since the early 1900s as people began recognizing the invigorating and healthy attributes that tea had to offer.  Once lauded as a beverage based on etiquette and prestige, loose-leaf tea is now finding itself as a tool for mixologists who have taken the traditional method of brewing tea with water to a new level by infusing tea leaves directly into hard liquor and spirits.  

Tea infused cocktails are finding themselves on menus of fine restaurants and bistros, creating a whole new flavor profile to the traditional cocktail.  According to Tony Gebely, owner of Chicago Tea Garden, “The art of creating unique spirits is limitless when using tea; infusing tea into alcohol brings out a different array of flavors that water alone can not produce.  High quality, yet affordable tea such as a Chinese Tie Guan Yin or Golden Bi Lou can provide unique flavors previously unknown to the cocktail world.”  Recognizing that loose-leaf tea can add complexity and intrigue to the traditional cocktail has opened the door to limitless possibilities.  Any mixologist will tell you that it’s all about experimentation.  Tea infused spirits can be done in a matter of days by simply adding loose-leaf tea leaves to any alcohol such as vodka or rum and letting the flavor of the leaves infuse.  Tea syrups can also be made by reducing tea leaves in sugar and water to form a syrup.  Whether ordering a tea-based cocktail at your neighborhood bistro, or preparing one at home, tea based beverages are sure to impress guests and offer a fresh twist to afternoon tea.