Tea is turning up in cocktails all around Dallas
Tea is popping up in cocktails around town, but don’t call the trend a gimmick. Tea has been adding complexity to mixed drinks for centuries.
“Tea-based cocktails have a long history in America, dating back to the 1600s when the planters were given punch – rum and tea drinks -” said Eric Spratley, who oversees the beverage program at Virgin Hotels Dallas. The hotel’s restaurant and Club Club lounge offer five juicy tea drinks at the monthly Upside Down Tea Party.
The tea party libations include a hibiscus tea and rum drink called Queen of Hearts. “My inspiration for this are the traditional strokes from the Caribbean and colonial America,” says Spratley. Colonial hits were so popular that pubs posted a rhyme about the components on a sign on the bar, he says.
“It was one from sour, two from sweet, three from strong and four from weak. The “weak” was always tea and the strong was always rum, ”says Spratley. Customers would have a choice between sweet and sour components – flavored syrups and a variety of citrus fruits.
Spratley’s use of hibiscus tea in his punch also dates back to the Caribbean. The herbal tea is made from a dried flower grown in Jamaica (the Spanish name for this is Jamaica). It gives the drink floral, herbal and sour aromas.
The Commons Club isn’t the first to offer tea cocktails in Dallas.
“We’ve done two in the last 4 1/2 years,” says Brent Rogers, who heads the Gemma bar program. The restaurant currently only offers takeaway food and wine, so Rogers offers private virtual cocktail classes for individuals or groups through Zoom.
One of Roger’s favorite Gemma cocktails is Buddha’s Tonic, a citric vodka cocktail made from an Earl Gray tea simple syrup. “It’s good for the summer. It’s light but complex and the Suze liqueur gives it a herbal flavor, ”he says. Although the restaurant infuses its vodka with a seasonal citrus called Buddha’s Hand, according to Rogers, you can use Hangar 1 Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka to make the drink year-round, according to Rogers.
At the Jeng Chi Restaurant in Richardson, bartender Andrew Johnson has been experimenting with tea cocktails since the restaurant started offering bar service in 2017. His rotating tea drinks include Jasmine Tea-Ni, made from vodka and Chur She jasmine tea – a high-end green tea scented with jasmine.
“The tea adds dimension, gives it a subtle, elegant taste, and helps smooth the drink,” says Johnson. “It’s not as strong as a martini, so it’s a very pleasant and easy-to-drink cocktail.”
Kyle Stewart, co-owner of the Cultured Cup, makes a riff about the old-fashioned cocktail with Black Magnolia Tea from the Great Mississippi Tea Co. He calls it Tea-Fashioned and prepares the drink with rye whiskey and a tea-soaked simple syrup.
“The tea counteracts the sweetness of the simple syrup and adds another layer of complexity,” says Stewart. His goal was to make a drink that would be pleasant with or without alcohol. That meant finding a substitute for the bitter substances.
“We got the bitter taste by adding black peppercorns, cloves and crushed cardamom to the syrup. And we made the tea in the syrup to get the body and aroma that we wanted for an old-fashioned, ”he says. “The recipe gives party hosts the flexibility to meet the needs of alcohol drinkers and non-drinkers alike. You can have it with or without bourbon, ”says Stewart.
He will demonstrate the Tea-Fashioned Cocktail and Cocktail during an upcoming virtual class.
Tea cocktail events
Upside Down Tea Party at the Commons Club of the Virgin Hotel, Dallas: Every second Sunday of the month at 3 p.m., this seated tea party features a menu of three cold and two hot tea cocktails, accompanied by innovative, sweet and savory finger foods. The price is $ 50 per person. For reservations please visit https://bit.ly/UPSIDEDOWNTEA.
Spilling the Black Magnolia Tea: On August 8, from 12pm to 2pm, Kyle Stewart of the Cultured Cup will meet with the US Tea Experience team for a virtual class to explore the Great Mississippi Tea Co.’s black magnolia tea. It is one of seven Zoom classes planned for appreciating the various farm-to-table teas available in the country. Each class includes demonstrations of cocktail and cocktail recipes, as well as culinary recipes and insights from tea authorities. Ticket prices range from $ 35 to $ 43 and include half an ounce of the featured tea. To register, visit eventbrite.com and search for the class by name. For information about upcoming courses, please contact [email protected]
Cocktails Anywhere, Zoom Private Cocktail Classes: Brent Rogers, bartender at Gemma Restaurant, offers Zoom private cocktail classes tailored to customer beverage requests. His drink repertoire includes tea cocktails. To schedule a lesson, send an email to [email protected]
Brent Rogers, Gemma’s bartender, makes a Buddha’s Tonic (a tea cocktail).(Gemma Restaurant)
4 to 5 fresh mint leaves and a sprig for garnish
3/4 ounce Earl Gray Simple Syrup (recipe to follow)
2 ounces hangar 1 Buddha’s hand citron vodka
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Suze liquor
Lemon wedge for garnish
Mix 4 to 5 fresh mint leaves with the simple Earl Gray syrup in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Add the vodka, lemon juice, and suze, followed by a generous cup of ice. To combine, shake and strain twice (by sifting through a fine-mesh sieve) into a stone glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a sprig of mint.
Makes 1 drink.
Earl Gray Simple Syrup: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of loose leaf Earl Gray tea (Gemma buys it from the Cultured Cup). Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve. Pass the syrup through a fine mesh sieve and use a spoon to squeeze the tea leaves to extract all of the syrup. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Source: Adapted from Gemma Restaurant
The team of the Cultured Cup tries the tea-fashioned cocktail.(The cultivated cup)
1 tablespoon of chilled black magnolia tea simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 ounces of cold, filtered water
1 ounce Bulleit 95 Rye Frontier whiskey (or your favorite rye whiskey)
An orange stripe
Big ice cubes
Luxardo or maraschino cherry (or a fresh Bing cherry with a stem) for garnish
Measure simple syrup, water, and whiskey into an old-fashioned glass. Turn the peel with the inside of the orange peel down (to expose the oils) and drop it into the glass. Stir with a spoon. Add large ice cubes and garnish with cherry.
Makes 1 drink.
Source: The Cultured Cup
Black Magnolia Tea Simple Syrup
1 cup of filtered water
1 cup of organic unrefined cane sugar (like the Just Panela brand, sold on the Whole Foods Market)
20 grams of black magnolia tea, crushed (sold at the Cultured Cup)
1/2 teaspoon of whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
6 cardamom pods, crushed
Bring water to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature and add unrefined sugar. Stir until everything is completely dissolved. Add crushed tea leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and crushed cardamom pods. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Take off the stove.
Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a jar with a lid and press on the solids with a spoon to extract all of the aromatic syrup. Cover the container and freeze for 20 minutes if you are about to make cocktails. or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups of syrup.
Notes: Black Magnolia is a farm-to-table oolong tea grown and made in Brookhaven, Mississippi by the Great Mississippi Tea Co. Unrefined (raw) sugar adds a caramel-molasses-raisin note and is more complex than turbinado or brown sugar.
Source: The Cultured Cup
Queen of Hearts
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of loose leaf hibiscus tea (we use the Jenwey brand) or 1 tea bag
3 ounces Appleton Jamaican rum
2 ounces Demerara syrup (recipe follows; or buy the syrup at Whole Foods Market)
1 ounce of fresh lime juice
Heat water to 200 F. Let the tea steep in water for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain the tea into a mixing glass or small jug filled with ice. Add rum, simple syrup, and lime juice. Mix well. Strain into glasses.
Demerara syrup: Bring equal parts demerara sugar and hot water to a boil until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool down.
Makes 2 drinks.
Source: The Commons Club Restaurant at the Virgin Hotels Dallas
Jasmine tea ni tea cocktail at Jeng Chi Restaurant in Richardson(Lawrence Jenkins / Special Contributor)
1 teaspoon simple syrup plus in addition to sticking sugar on the glass rim (recipe follows)
Sugar, to the edge of the glass
2 ounces Belvedere vodka or your favorite premium vodka
1 ounce double strength, chilled Chur She jasmine tea (sold loose-leaf in cultured cups; brewing method follows)
Lightly dip a fingertip in plain syrup and rub halfway around the rim of a chilled martini glass. Dip the half lined with syrup in sugar to coat it lightly.
Fill a cocktail shaker or glass with ice. Rinse and strain the ice. Add vodka, chilled tea, and 1 teaspoon of simple syrup to the glass of ice. Stir briefly (five or six times). Strain into a prepared martini glass.
Make Double Strength Jasmine Tea: Heat 7 ounces of water to 175 F and soak 2 teaspoons of Chur She jasmine tea in it for 4 minutes. Strain into a glass and place in the freezer until cool (or soak the glass in an ice bath). Can be prepared and chilled in a cocktail up to 8 hours before use.
Make Simple Syrup: Combine 4 ounces of sugar and 3 ounces of boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Store tightly in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Alternatively, you can make a small amount for immediate use.
Makes 1 drink.
Source: Jeng Chi Restaurant
Tina Danze is a freelance writer based in Dallas.