DAY TWO: Tea Party!
There is something about sipping on a cocktail in the sunshine that makes it one of life’s simplest pleasures. Spring in this part of the world is a wonderful, glorious in-between of icy chilly winters to long, hot and humid summers. I don’t know about all of you, but this is the time of year that I try to log in all my patio drinking hours. When I’m thinking about creating cocktails, inspiration can come from anywhere – whether it is the spirit itself, a new fresh ingredient I’ve recently discovered, or something old thought about in a new way. For today’s installation, we take the classic Arnold Palmer and give it a nice spring spruce. This glorious concoction of half iced tea and half lemonade has certainly earned its spot as a quintessential warm weather staple. I can always tell that I really like something non-alcoholic when I think, “hmm that would be great in a cocktail.” Green tea has become a recent obsession of mine. I’ve always loved green tea, but I’ve recently started trying different types. Now, as it warms up, I’ve been making iced green tea and it has been glorious! I love the earthy and slightly floral quality of a great green tea. I also love that it pairs beautifully with so many different flavors from floral to fruity to savory. You can also add a different type of acid by creating a limeade instead of lemonade. I think that the sharpness of the lime really adds a bold flavor to the tea. And again, this is a great base recipe to inspire you to spread your creative cocktail wings. You can certainly swap out different herbs, spices, or types of tea.
TYPES OF GREEN TEA:
There are too many to mention but here are some of the favorites that I have discovered on my tea journey.
Hou Kui: This Chinese green tea and is most commonly known as, “Monkey Tea.” The leaves of this tea absorb the flavor of surrounding orchids, with the result being a orchid flavor taste.
Sencha: Sencha is the “everyday” Japanese green tea. Types and qualities vary widely. Leaves of this tea are exposed directly to sunlight. I think this has a great earthy and balanced flavor.
Matcha: Matcha is a powdered green tea from Japan. Tea is grown primarily in the shade. This tea is commonly used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. This tea has more of a vegetal flavor profile with a slightly sweet finish.
Genmaicha: This is actually a sencha tea that is pan fired and then blended with toasted hulled rice. During the toasting of the hulled rice, it is not unusual for the rice to “pop,” leading to the name of “popcorn tea.” This has a lovely earthy quality that I love to highlight especially when it is served cold.
But no need to be intimidated by all the tea, pick the tea that is right or convenient for you and go from there. No need to get your tea towel in a bunch! The one piece of advice I will give you is to make sure not to steep your tea in scalding hot water as you don’t want it to burn and become bitter.
5 cups of water
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1 tbsp dried rose petals
1 tbsp whole cardamom slightly muddled
Juice limes and reserve the rinds. You should have about 1/2 a cup of lime juice. Place rinds and lime juice in a large pitcher. In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, add 1 cup of water and sugar. Once sugar has dissolved, add rose petals and cardamom and bring mixture up to a boil. Lower heat and then simmer for 20 minutes. Allow mixture to cool and strain directly into pitcher. Add 4 cups of water and stir well. Add ice and serve. I like to leave the rinds in my pitcher, but you’re welcome to discard them.
TEA FOR TWO
1 1/2 oz Watershed Bourbon Barrel Gin
3 oz iced green tea
3 oz limeade
Add all ingredients to a shaker tin, shake well. Strain into a collins glass. Garnish with rose buds or lime wheels. The sweetness and slight spiciness of this gin pairs beautifully with this cocktail.
SIR MIX IT UP: Try different flavor combinations for the limeade. Basil and Thai chili. Thyme and coriander. Mint and pink peppercorn. I also think grapefruit instead of a limeade would be delicious with green tea. Don’t even get me started on all the flavored green teas out there. That is a rabbit hole of possibilities that could take us the entirety of spring to get through. But I’m game! You can also swap out the spirit in this cocktail with vodka, tequila or rye. I think this would make a wonderful split base of tequila and gin, my two best friends in the spring time. The great thing about this recipe is that is best enjoyed and made by the pitcher. I think we should make all patios pitcher only zones.
I hope you all enjoy this new tea adventure and post and share what delicious concoctions this recipe inspires. I can’t wait. Pinkies up!
Your neighborhood bar geek,