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Tea can suit cocktails to a T

Linnea Covington

More bartenders are experimenting with tea in their cocktails. The Savannah cocktail at Maison Premiere infuses Pernod with Darjeeling tea.

Since opening last November of last year, DavidsTea has been pushing the idea of innovative, creative teas to the masses. The Canadian company has already added chocolate, coffee, nuts and candy to some of their blends. Now, they are launching a cocktail collection of tea to debut Sept. 19.

“We found many DavidsTea drinkers were coming up with these great cocktails using our loose leaf teas, and we thought we would make it easy for them and put our favorites in one box, complete with recipes,” said company co-founder David Segal.

So, now you can make an Exotica Thai Martini with their tropical Exotica blend, the Goji Pop Fizz (recipe below), with their light and fruity Goji Pop tea, and three other tantalizing adult beverages.

But the tea cocktails trend doesn’t stop there. While DavidsTea helps you make your own, you can also sip on professional versions all over New York City. At Red Rooster in Harlem, for example, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson just launched a new line of four teas called Ambessa (which means "lion" in the Amharic language) and offers a drink made with his Earl of Harlem (recipe below) mixture. In this beverage, the smoky flavors of the tea complement the sweetness of vodka and lemon.

Linnea Covington

Peach vanilla cocktail from Bistro The Tea Set

At Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, bartenders infuse Pernod with Darjeeling in their Savannah drink. They know they’re not the first ones to do so; in fact, the restaurant’s beverage director and head bartender, Maxwell Britten, said putting tea in drinks isn’t that unusual. 

“Tea in cocktails has been a method used for longer than cocktails have been around,” Britten told TODAY.com. “During the British Empire era and the spice trading boom, people applied tea to a beverage favorite known as punch. They found it added depth to the concoction by giving it an herbaceous or sweet quality, which can often bring out definition of the drink or flavors that are already there.”

Cocktail maven Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club has known for years that tea can add depth to drinks, and she experiments with the combination in her Earl Grey MarTEAni. You can also find tasty tea-infused drinks at Jbird Cocktails in the Upper East Side, where they make their Imperial March with Chinese black tea infused with Cognac. The restaurant also adds chamomile grappa to their light and floral Camomila Cocktail.

Linnea Covington

Exotica blend at Davids Tea

Parm serves a Chinatown Sling made with tea-infused gin, and at the French-Japanese fusion restaurant Mihoko’s 21 Grams, bar manager Raphael Reyes puts jasmine tea in their Coquette cocktails and hibiscus tea in the Belle Époque. Finally, at Bistro The Tea Set, owner Jacques Doassan spikes his champagne with tea-steeped simple syrup in flavors like green apple mate and red peach vanilla.

“When it comes to infusing tea into a cocktail, there are actually myriad ways to accomplish this,” suggested tea sommelier Chris Cason, co-founder of Tavalon Tea. “But also, it is important to remember that any good cocktail is about balance, and you don’t want to pair a light tea with a strong spirit or it will overpower it and vice versa.”

To make your own tea-infused adult beverage, Cason has a couple of suggestions. One, he said, is to make tea as you normally would and use that as a mixer; warm is great for a hot toddy, cold for a cool drink, or you can freeze brewed tea into ice cubes. Another method is seeping the tea leaves in the spirit, although Carson warns you shouldn't leave the tea in for more than 45 minutes, lest the tea’s tannins make the liquor bitter.

Finally, you can make tea-infused simple syrup by brewing the tea, then adding equal parts sugar and melting it all together. Voila! The new face of tea just got a lot more fun.

Goji Pop Fizz by DavidsTea

Serves 4


4½ teaspoons of DavidsTea Goji Pop*
1 cup hot water
1 cup lemon-lime soda (or sparkling white wine)
4 ounces gin
¼ cup lime juice


  1. Steep tea and strain in pitcher filled with ice.
  2. Add soda, gin, and lime juice, and then stir.
  3. Pour into glasses (add extra ice if needed), and garnish with lime wedge.

* You can substitute with other fruit-based tisanes.


Linnea Covington

Earl of Harlem cocktail at Red Rooster

Earl of Harlem

Serves 1 cocktail, enough syrup for 28 drinks

Earl of Harlem syrup:

9 cups water
2 cups loose Ambessa Earl of Harlem tea (about 30 sachets)*
6 dried red chilies
2 tablespoons coriander seed
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey


  1. Set 4 cups water to boil.
  2. Dry roast chilies and coriander for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant.
  3. Add chilies, coriander, sugar, and honey to water, stir, and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Strain into a container and let cool
  5. Boil tea into remaining 5 cups water, about 5 minutes, and then steep for 15 and strain.
  6. Add previous syrup mixture into tea, stir, strain, and let cool.

*You can also substitute for any good quality Earl Grey tea or smoked black tea.


  1. Mix 2 ounces vodka with 2 ounces of the Earl of Harlem syrup, ½ ounce lemon juice, and ½ ounce simple syrup.
  2. Shake with ice and strain into rocks glass.
  3. Garnish with orange rind.

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