Crafting Cocktails with Tea June 11, 2015 Food Fusion & Brews By: Genie Davis Tea isn’t just a beverage for quaffing with scones in a flowery tea room anymore. Today, tea is a flavorful craft cocktail ingredient. Steeping tea in liquor has inspired something of a trend among today’s mixologists. And why not? Tea is flavorful, aromatic, and sexy. Handcrafted, organic tea blends have a rising profile. Combining handcrafted tea with handcrafted liquor creates a cutting edge cocktail that evokes rich and redolent tastes. In Chicago, mixologist Adam Seger joined with Rod Markus of Rare Tea Cellars to create a craft beverage known as “Breakfast Any Time.” This is a combination of the Koval Distillery’s hand crafted oat liquor with two Markus tea blends, Peach Rooibos and English Breakfast. The resulting cocktail should also get a splash of earthy, sweet Burton’s Maple Syrup. Another Seger recipe calls for the Vintage Blood Orange Pu’erh from Markus’ Rare Tea Cellars. This is added to any potent craft liquor—preferably 80 proof. How about a Chai Rob Roy? This is the favorite tea infused spirit served up by Gabriel Lehner at Macao restaurant in New York City. It features a chai-infused sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and black grouse. What you end up with is a craft beverage with a powerful flavor. In Los Angeles, Art of Tea founder Steve Schwartz has created an entire cocktail recipe book with offerings such as a green tea “Matcha Lemon Ball.” This is basically a variation on the more prosaic Lemon Drop, and a Blooming Tea-tini. Here’s another great one to consider as you relax in the summer breeze. Combine gourmet loose leaf Art of Tea flavors with spirits from local California craft distiller St. George. This will give you a double dose of craft flavor. St. George’s All Purpose Vodka, Green Chile Vodka, and California Citrus Vodka paired with one of Schwartz’s handcrafted, organic artisan teas will surely be a force to be reckoned with. Or, you can try Schwartz’ whiskey-based “Welcome to Bourbon Street” made with a lavender pink peppercorn and chamomile tea blend, lavender syrup, orange flower, and lavender peel. Add St. George’s craft single malt whiskey, and just chill out.