Tea goes into a lot more than cups

Illustration by Richard Lovrich & William M. Dowd

Every time the weather goes on a warm run, I like to refresh my cocktail selections with the latest ones using tea, the perfect summer beverage. Here, I'm re-posting two of my standby recipes plus a new one from the folks at Wild Turkey.

As I poured a generous splash of Arizona Green Tea into the skillet to deglaze it from the sauteed chicken and shallots I'd just removed, it occurred to me how underutilized tea is in much of our cuisine.

The ancient plant has seen a tremendous boom in popularity -- green tea, white tea, red tea -- in recent years, but primarily as a stand-alone drink. Too little use is made of it as a deglazing agent, a marinade base, or even as a component in cocktails.

So, in honor of the traditions of both tea and the upcoming holiday season, here are three drinks that utilize tea as a major component.


This concoction utilizes American Honey, a honey liqueur from the makers of Wild Turkey Bourbon.

4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
8 black tea bags
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 cups American Honey liqueur

In a large saucepan, boil 4 cups water. Add 1/2 cup sugar; stir to dissolve. Remove from heat; add 8 teabags of black tea. Steep 10 minutes; discard teabags. Add 4 cups cold water; transfer to pitcher and chill. Mash or muddle lemon wedges and add to pitcher. Add 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves. Using a wooden spoon, crush mint until fragrant. Stir in 2 cups of American Honey. Serve over ice.


I created this cocktail three years ago to celebrate the emerging popularity of both vodka and tea.

3 parts Arizona Green Tea with Honey and Ginseng
3 parts all-grain vodka
6 drops Angostura Bitters
1 teaspoon Galliano liqueur
1 mint leaf
2 orange slices

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with fresh ice (you can substitute Strega for the Galliano), stir briskly with a cocktail spoon, then strain quickly into a frosted martini glass. Twist the juice from an orange slice into the drink and let it meander through the solution on its own. Garnish with an orange slice and a mint leaf for color


This cocktail comes from the folks at Absolut vodka but, of course, any basic vodka can be used. As for the Fee Brothers syrup mentioned in the recipe, it is made in Rochester, N.Y., and can be ordered from them online.

1 part vodka
3 parts fresh cinnamon-spiced tea
Sweeten to taste with Fee Brothers spiced cordial syrup

Combine, shake lightly without ice, garnish with a cinnamon stick and service in a cocktail tumbler.

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