Summer cocktail ideas with a twist from Sheffield tea company

Never mind a splash of milk – a Sheffield tea company is suggesting you try the cup that cheers with a shot of gin, vodka or bourbon instead.

By Julia Armstrong
Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 3:00 pm

Of course, this is not a dangerous idea for your mid-morning cuppa from the Batch Tea Co – it’s a suggestion to add tea to your cocktails.

Director of the speciality tea company Marc Riley says that iced tea, with or without alcohol, can be a really refreshing summer drink idea perfect for a barbecue.

"Tea is so, so versatile,” enthused Marc, “There are so many different types of tea out there. In this country we tend to know tea bags which are fairly low-grade black tea we drink in the winter and there are 27,000 known types of tea that come from the same bush.

Marc Riley and his business partner Owen Terry of Sheffield's Batch Tea Co

“The differences are to do with how they’re processed and the environment they’re grown in, like wine. The flavours are so different – there’s subtle, sweeter-tasting teas that are quite grassy or big, powerful, strong-hitting, black teas and everything in between.”

Marc suggests using the firm’s green tea by mixing it with vodka and using it to make Cosmopolitans and he recommends pairing Earl Grey with gin.

“The smoky taste of Lapsang Souchong works brilliantly with bourbon and you can use it to make Old Fashioneds,” said Marc. “People who like Old Fashioneds will discover they like tea Old Fashioneds even more.”

One of their more expensive teas, an oolong called Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe), has coffee flavours that work well infused in rum and used to make mojitos.

How do you add tea flavours to spirits? “It’s every easy to do. You might think it might be a bit tricky,” said Marc. “It’s a case of putting tea leaves in spirits and leaving it for a week, then straining the tea out. You can play with it a bit and start having different mixes.

"You can cold infuse tea. It’s something that sounds a bit complicated but it’s literally putting leaves into cold water and leaving it. You need to leave it a bit longer than if you are putting in boiling water, say half an hour to an hour.”

Marc said that using this method for making iced tea gives a different flavour and avoids giving it the bitter edge you often get when using cooled tea that was made with boiling water. He suggests making up a jug of cold-infused tea and leaving it in the fridge overnight.

Cold-infused tea can be used as a mixer in drinks, pour in some vodka or just add ice for an alcohol-free drink.

Marc says quality teas remind him of craft beers, so he was delighted when Abbeydale Brewery got in touch to talk about using Earl Grey in a Reaper wheat beer.

Craft gin distillery and brewhouse Cuckoostone in Barlow in the Peak District are collaborating with Batch Tea Co to create a new gin. They are using Phoenix Black, a tea which has tropical fruit notes to it.

The Cuckoostone and Abbeydale Brewery products are also on offer as rewards in a Batch Tea Co crowdfunder for its new cookery book. In return for donating to the crowdfunder, supporters get rewards.

Batch Tea Co website: