For years, the thought of tea may have conjured up images of grandmothers sipping orange pekoe while knitting and watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote. Over the last decade, specialty tea shops have popped up across the city and introduced Torontonians to the seemingly endless variety of blends from around the world.
Now, the latest craze to take the beverage world by storm is the tea cocktail. Served warm or chilled, pairing tea with complementary liquors and liqueurs results in fully customizable libations. “There are so many flavours of tea… There are over 400 ingredients in our teas and I think that it opens up a world of possibilities with tea and cocktails,” the founder of DAVIDsTea, David Segal, explains.
Rumoured to have begun with an Earl Grey infused “marteani” in 2005 at New York’s Pegu Club, many of Toronto’s hippest bartenders are now getting in on the trend and taking advantage of tea’s broad flavour palate.
The Saviari Tea + Cocktail Lounge serves up an entire menu of alcoholic and virgin tea cocktails. From the whiskey-based Flaming Hickey to the coconutty Cultured Yuppie, there’s a combination for every occasion.
Try The Alchemist at Weslodge for a unique cocktail that combines black tea with charred wood simple syrup, chivas, cherry vanilla bitters, tobacco tincture, and scotch.
And although Kensington Market’s Cold Tea doesn’t have a set cocktail menu, their bartenders are happy to add tea to your custom bevvy.
If you’re itching to learn the art of tea mixology, consider taking a workshop from Tipicular Fixins, a Toronto-based cocktail consultancy company.
Or, if you’re ready to dive right in, DAVIDsTea provides us with a couple of DIY recipes that are perfect for the summer months.
The Gogji Pop Cocktail
2 to 3 oz concentrated goji pop tea
1 oz vodka
1/2 oz cointreau
Splash fresh lemon or orange
Simple syrup to taste
How to Steep the Tea
In a standard size pitcher, place 10 to 12 tea filters filled with leaves. Pour hot water over tea leaves. Steep for the suggested time (indicated on tea label). Remove tea. Allow to cool. Serve.
Migratory Coconut (Monty Python reference)
2 oz Appleton White Rum (infused for 2 hours with Coconut Grove tea leaves)
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup
.125 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
Serve on the rocks in a rocks glass… maybe an umbrella for garnish, so it doesn’t get sunburned.