Revealing the enigmas of tea mocktails

Revealing the enigmas of tea mocktails

Paula Stocker

Indulging in a simple pot of tea is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. From afternoon tea to a gong fu session, or simply savoring a grandpa-style oolong at the office, tea drinking is a meditative and calming ritual that has been celebrated for centuries. However, there are times when we all crave something a little more sophisticated - a fancy cocktail, perhaps? Growing up, I often watched movies and TV shows in awe as characters whipped up martinis and elaborate drinks in their home bars. Today, mixologists are celebrated, and our online feeds are filled with inspiring retro fairy tales that evoke visions of housework with pearls and pumps, martini in one hand and duster in the other.

For many people, the allure of festive adult beverages is not just about getting drunk - it's about breaking out the fancy glassware, exploring flavors, and indulging in sophisticated tastes that are far from sugary soda substitutes. With that in mind, we began researching Dry January, a UK campaign launched in 2014 to encourage people to abstain from alcohol for the month of January. Thousands of people signed up to take part in the program, and the numbers have grown steadily over the years. Participants report losing weight, feeling better, saving money, and developing healthier drinking habits as a result.

To celebrate Dry January and the joy of mocktails, we set out to create recipes that incorporated the complex, nuanced flavors of our favorite teas. We scoured the internet for inspiration, consulted with mixologists, and reviewed tasting notes from dozens of teas to find the perfect blends for our creations. What we discovered was that many mocktail recipes relied heavily on fruit juice, making them essentially renamed smoothies and sodas. We knew we could do better.

Bai Ya Bao, for instance, is a tea made from the dormant winter buds of the wild tea plant (Camilia Talliensis). It has a clear liquor but a strongly herbaceous flavor, making it a perfect substitute for Gin. We added spices to the tea infusion, which served as the base for our Wild White Collins.

Shou Puerh, on the other hand, has a rich and smoky flavor with notes of vanilla that makes it an excellent base for a classic Whiskey Sour, or our take on it, Sour Shou.

Sour Shou

Our Moroccan Mojito is a twist on a classic Moroccan Mint tea, infused with the refreshing flavors of lime. We used cold brewed Gunpowder green tea as the base with fresh mint to create this incredibly refreshing beverage.

We experimented with the recipe for Cherry and Smoke from Epicurious and found that increasing the strength of the tea was necessary to stand up to the cherry juice, which we reduced in our version.

Tea is a delicious and healthy alternative to alcohol-based cocktails, whether in recovery or just looking to take a break or cut down alcohol consumption. We find that having a couple of mason jars of cold brewed teas in the fridge make it easy to create something unique when the mood strikes. Don't be afraid to be inspired, try new things, make mistakes - it's all part of the fun. Cheers to good health and creative exploration!

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