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Tea is a quick pick-me-up and feel-good beverage and a tea break is the perfect way to relax, to warm, and to refresh.  What is it about tea that has us hooked?  The caffeine in the tea acts as a stimulant, but there’s more to the story.  Theanine, an amino acid found as a natural compound in all teas, makes us feel good by increasing our alpha brain wave activity, which is also associated with an alert state of mind.

For an entirely different set of chemical reasons, alcohol is another favorite feel-good drink.  Cocktails made with tea are rapidly gaining popularity.  Several tea-infused vodkas and liquors are now available on the market, including Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, Modern Spirits Tea Vodka, and Zen Green Tea Liqueur.

The 2008 World Tea Expo presented the first-ever tea cocktail competition, which featured a wide range of teas and tisanes, blended with everything from tequila to gin.  The winning recipe came from Max Solano of Table 10 in Las Vegas, whose herbaceous cocktail combined blackberry jasmine iced green tea with gin, Agwa coca leaf liqueur, lime juice, vanilla/clove syrup, and egg white.

At The Tea Spot, we’ve worked diligently this holiday season to come up with some winning cocktails of our own,  and published a free e-book available for download on our home page.  The three recipes below are my personal favorites from our collection, and I’d like to share them with you here at T Ching.  They’re all made with spirits.  Please drink responsibly!

Blood Orange Blush

Servings: 8 champagne flutes
Ingredients:
2 tsp BLOOD ORANGE SMOOTHIE tea leaves, yielding ½ cup tea concentrate*
2 tsp sugar, honey, or agave sweetener
½ cup gin
½ cup Campari
1 750-ml bottle chilled sparkling white wine, Champagne, Cava, Spumanti, or Prosecco

1.    *Make BLOOD ORANGE SMOOTHIE tea concentrate:
Place 2 teaspoons of BLOOD ORANGE SMOOTHIE tea leaves in a 10-ounce steeping cup.  Bring 4 ounces of water to boil.  Pour the water over the tea leaves and steep for 6 minutes.  Strain out the tea leaves.  Sweeten with 2 teaspoons of sugar, honey, or agave.  Chill.

2.    Combine chilled tea concentrate with gin and Campari.

3.    Divide the tea/liquor mix among 8 champagne flutes.  Then add the chilled sparkling wine.

South African Sunset

Servings: 2 6-ounce cocktail glasses
Ingredients:
2 tsp RED ROCKS tea leaves, yielding 1/2 cup tea concentrate*
½ cup Amaretto liquor
Splash of orange juice
Ice cubes

1.    *Make RED ROCKS tea concentrate:
Place 2 teaspoons of RED ROCKS tea leaves in a 10-ounce steeping cup.  Bring 4 ounces of water to boil and pour the water over the tea leaves.  Steep for 6 minutes.  Strain out the tea leaves.  Chill.

2.    Divide the tea concentrate and Amaretto between the two cocktail glasses.  Stir.  Add a splash of orange juice and the ice cubes to each glass.

Bolder Russian & Blonder Russian (variation)

Servings: 2 6-ounce cocktail glasses
Ingredients:
1 tsp BOLDER BREAKFAST tea leaves, yielding ½ cup tea concentrate*
2 ounces Kahlua
2 vodka
Splash of half-and-half (for Blonder Russian variation only)

1.    *Make BOLDER BREAKFAST tea concentrate:
Place 1 teaspoon of BOLDER BREAKFAST tea leaves in a 10-ounce steeping cup.  Bring 4 ounces of water to boil and pour the water over the tea leaves.  Steep for 5 minutes.  Strain out the tea leaves.  Chill.

2.    Fill a shaker with ice.  Add the tea concentrate, Kahlua, and vodka.  Shake well and strain into two cocktail glasses.  For the Blonder Russian variation, add a splash of half-and-half.

Photo “Bourbon mint tea” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer “thebittenword.com” and is being posted unaltered (source)
Photo “blood orange cocktail” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer “rick” and is being posted unaltered (source)
Photo “White Russian” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Jeremy Keith and is being posted unaltered (source)

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