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    Wine & Food

    How to make tea-infused cocktails

    2 August 2019

    As David Wondrich notes in his definitive early drinks history Punch, tea found its way into punch – the precursor to modern cocktails – as early as 1727. This should come as no surprise, as the same East India Company ships that supplied tea, arrack and spices from the East also imported tea to England, but you may not know that coffee houses – not taverns or inns – were where punch was popularised.

    Coffee houses – which charged a penny for entrance – became a popular gathering place amongst a mixture of aristocrats and well-off tradesman, who came to read the latest newspapers and debate contemporary affairs. It’s not yet known when the first bowl of punch was served, but coffee house licenses permitted spirits, and by the end of the 17th century, the boozy “brew” became a staple in boites countrywide.

    A couple years ago, I had the pleasure of collaborating with a craftswoman renown London tea importer Henrietta Lovell of Rare Tea Company. Lovell has spent the majority of her career as an importer soapboxing against the tea bag, which confines tea leaves (often in a toxically wrapped bleached paper pouches fastened with a metal staple) preventing proper flavor extraction. I’ve spent mine campaigning for the cocktail to be recognized as a card carrying member of the culinary arts. Three of the recipes we created together – all featured in a chapter of Lovell’s new book Infused – are included below.

    Tea Infused Cocktail Recipes

    Besides being one of the few rums in the world that includes Batavia Arrack – a heady pot-stilled rum from Indonesia that features in historic punch recipes – each Banks blend has unique components that pair perfectly with the wide range of flavor in tea. For grassy green teas like Japanese sencha, I typically reached for the white Banks 5 Island Blend, and for the darker tropical notes of her oxidized, wok-fired black teas, I opted for the amber Banks 7 Golden Blend.

    For one mixture, we “brewed” the tea in the rum itself- which functions similarly to hot water: the stronger the spirit, the faster the infusion. For each creation, we examined the critical leaf to water ratio at various temperatures (and alcoholic strength for the rum infusion) to show off her wares in all their glory.

    Cloud Tea Punch

    Cloud Tea Punch by Jochen Hirschfeld

    Cloud Tea Punch by Jochen Hirschfeld

    500 ml Brut Champagne
    250 ml Cloud Tea Infused Banks 5 Island Rum*
    175 ml Honey Syrup*
    75 ml Lime Juice

    Combine everything but the Champagne a punch bowl an hour before service and chill in the fridge
    Add a large tempered block of ice to the bowl
    Garnish the punch with edible orchids
    Ladle into cups and serve

    Cloud Tea Infused Banks 5 Island Rum
    1 750 ml bottle of Banks 5 Island Rum
    15 g. cloud tea

    Method:
    Infuse for 5 minutes, then fine strain and bottle

    Honey Syrup
    680 g. honey
    500 ml water
    Simmer over medium heat (approx. 80˚ C) until honey dissolves
    Cool and bottle
    Yields 1 liter

    R&R Punch

    R&R Punch by Jochen Hirschfeld

    R&R Punch by Jochen Hirschfeld

    500 ml Rooibos Infusion
    375 ml Banks 7 Golden Age Rum
    75 ml Grade A Dark Amber Maple Syrup
    50 ml Lemon Juice
    Combine in a punch bowl an hour before service and chill in the fridge
    Add a large tempered block of ice to the bowl
    Garnish the punch with grated nutmeg
    Ladle into cups and serve

    Rooibos Infusion

    500 ml Hot Water
    18 g. Rooibos
    Infuse for 45 minutes, then fine strain and chill

    Green Tea Punch

    375 ml Banks 5 Island Rum
    175 ml Sencha Tea (4 g. tea brewed with 175 ml water for 5 minutes)
    175 ml Mint Tissane (2 g. leaves brewed with 175 ml water for 1.5 minutes)
    60 ml Lime Juice
    100 g. evaporated cane sugar
    Brew the tea, then fine strain and pour it into the punch bowl
    Stir in the sugar until it dissolves
    Add 500 g. of pebble ice to chill and dilute the mixture
    Add lime juice and rum
    Add a large tempered block of ice to the bowl
    Garnish the punch with grated nutmeg
    Ladle into cups and serve

    Jim Meehan is founder of Please Don’t Tell and co-founder of Banks Rums