Mixing gin and tea for life affirming cocktails
By Sam Coyne
Few things cause arguments among Britons as gin and tea. Few things repair the damage of said arguments, as gin and tea. The order in which you add milk to tea, or vice versa, drives families apart with a force only equal to the debate over how much tonic you ought to add to a G&T. No exaggeration. If we cut out the middle man here, it seems about time then that we start combining the two for one almighty crowd-pleaser.
Let’s keep things simple to begin with – how about gin with tea included as a signature botanical? The Kyoto Distillery took its Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin and created the limited-edition Ki No Tea (45.1% ABV) using Gyokuro and Tencha teas. Gyokuro, a tea hailing from Japan, is a green tea grown in the shade for roughly three weeks and then rolled-up. Tencha is a ground-up version, similar to Gyokuro, with both used in Matcha. The Kyoto Distillery suggests that by adding these teas they have added a greater depth and sweetness to their gins.
To create the expression, The Kyoto Distillery collaborated with the tea-grower and blender, Horii-Shichimeien, which was founded in the Meiji era in 1879 and based in the Uji region to the south of Kyoto.
It certainly is a great choice for a gin fan looking for their tea hit. The nose is incredibly forward, delivering a floral note along with real sweetness that continues onto the palate. What’s striking however is how quickly the palate moves from sweetness towards a piney note, that then becomes very green and earthy. On the finish, it’s drying, with a pronounced green tea note. Best of all, despite being a limited edition, it’s available online from Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange.
How would we serve it though and what opportunities does the tea note bring? Well the original Ki No Bi goes great in a martini, with the sweetness of the base dry gin offering a little relief in an otherwise serious cocktail. Switching this for the Ki No Tea is our choice for a syllable-heavy, tea-inspired mouthful:
• 50ml Ki No Tea gin
• 10ml Dry vermouth
• Twist of lemon peel
Add ice to a chilled cocktail glass, before adding the vermouth. Stir to ensure that the ice is coated in the vermouth and then strain away. Add the gin to the cocktail glass and stir for about 30 seconds to chill and dilute. Strain and serve into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a twist of lemon peel. Expect the drink to first hit you with the sweet and floral nose of the Ki No Tea gin, before getting dry with the green tea note on the palate. Garnishing with a twist of lemon adds a little more citrus to the tea.
Speaking of the martini, when discussing tea and gin it’s only fair to turn our attention to Audrey Saunders from Pegu Club in New York. Her creation, that MarTeaNi, is a must-try for any tea and gin lover. When Pegu opened in New York, it is said that Saunders’ mission was to get drinkers choosing gin again. Saunders took the classic gin sour and added the unexpected element of Earl Grey-infused gin.
A simple but effective cocktail to wow both gin and tea enthusiasts, this does require first of all infusing tea into gin. Thankfully, this too is simple enough. It’s also good neat on the rocks as its own serve.
It’s more straight forward to make this as a batch. It’ll keep indefinitely and once you’ve mastered the Mar-Tea-Ni the bottle is sure to see plenty of action anyway.
• 1 bottle of gin*
• 4 tbsp of loose Earl Grey tea (you can play around with your choice of tea as well to suit your taste)
Measure the tea into the bottle. Recork and shake. Leave the bottle with loose tea inside to rest at room temperature for around two hours. Strain through a coffee-filter into a bowl. Rinse out the empty bottle to remove the loose tea and pour infusion into it.
*Most recipes will suggest going for Tanqueray as the gin of choice, suggesting that this is due to its flavour and high ABV. With this in mind, if you were looking for an alternative, navy strength gins are a good go-to, while the East India Company Gin, with its citrus and spiced London Dry, brings something interesting to the table.
THE EARL GREY MAR-TEA-NI INSPIRED BY AUDREY SAUNDERS, PEGU
• 60ml tea infused dry gin
• 40ml simple syrup
• 20ml fresh lemon juice
• 1 egg white
• Twist of lemon peel
Measure all ingredients into a mixing glass, before adding ice. Shake for 10-20 seconds to mix. Then strain into a chilled martini glass, before garnishing with a lemon twist.
Another nod when thinking of gin and tea must be towards The East India Company Gin. The company claims that its history includes the creation of the gin and tonic in 1825, as it provided officers in Madras with quinine to fight against malaria. With a gin proudly produced by Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers, the botanical profile includes galangal, which brings citrus notes along with spice and pine, and long pepper, which delivers sweetness, before a little muskiness too.
A step into one of their stores is also, unsurprisingly, a trip into a world of exotic teas and as such they have a great range of suggested serves for those looking to combine gin and tea.
THE EAST INDIA PUNCH, INSPIRED BY THE EAST INDIA COMPANY GIN
As with a number of punches, it’s best to make a bowlful or bulk and serve as appropriate. This is a great party number.
• 4 tsp loose leaf Earl Grey tea
• 300ml East India Company London Dry Gin
• 3 tbsp plum jam
• 400ml prosecco or sparkling wine
• 80ml fresh lemon juice
• 500ml lemonade
Pour the gin into a mixer and add the Earl Grey. Leave to infuse for 20 minutes and then strain into a shaker. Add half of the lemon juice and plum jam. Shake away and pour the mixture into a punch bowl. Add a large handful of ice, the prosecco and lemonade and the remaining lemon juice. Stir well, before garnishing with chunks of fruit, for instance strawberries, oranges and lemon. Serve in a highball.
East India Company Gin recently collaborated with Dukes Hotel in London, offering guests a trio of mini MarTeaNis using the London Dry.
So there, gin and tea are certainly happy bedfellows and well worth playing around with. The infusion of tea into gin is so simple and certainly worth a crack at home. It may end up with you being peak-Briton; queuing for hours and working on that stiff upper-lip, but hey, at least you’ll have some nice drinks to enjoy in the meanwhile.