Throwing a tea party at home is pretty much the height of fun, especially when you add some spirit to that tea. Whether you go with a highbrow high tea and break out the finger sandwiches, or just cozy up in the kitchen around warm cups and conversation, this no fuss way to serve your spiked tea is always a crowd pleaser.
Fun personal fact, guys: I’m a reaaaally big sucker for going out to tea. I’ve really never met a tea setting I didn’t like: kitschy little shops with Queen Elizabeth doilies, dressed up holiday teas at hotels I can’t afford to stay in, artful Japanese tea ceremonies, formal Russian tea services… I’ve done them all, loved them all, and seek them out whenever I can.
The ultimate goal of a good drink, for me, is to slow things down and make room for good conversation (or, if you’re solo, a good moment for thought). I’m so drawn to these moments I built my livelihood around them. And a tea service always delivers them in spades.
While I highly recommend seeking out a local tea parlor and bringing your besties for a good long chat, there’s no reason you can’t bring the same level of hospitality and congeniality these places are known for into your own home. I love to occasionally get fancy and go ham on some dainty little finger sandwiches and petit fours, but for the most part I just pick up my favorite local pastry (like these drool-worthy rose croissants) and post up in the comfiest corner of my house with a loaded tray of teacups.
There are a few tricks to getting a boozy tea right — you want it hot but not too hot (because the alcohol will evaporate), and you don’t want to concentrate the warm alcohol vapor into your nose (or it will seem much boozier than it really is). For these reasons, I infuse the spirit directly with tea in advance, then add honey and boiling water right as I serve it. It’s also important to use a wide mouth teacup (the wider the better, like these from Villeroy and Boch) to disperse the vapors, NOT a steep sided coffee mug.
I like building the drink in the cup right at the table, just as if I were pouring out a regular cup of tea. You can mix and match tea blends, but my rule of thumb is that if you use a black tea, you want to add cream to smooth out the tannins, and if you use an herbal tea, a squeeze of lemon is best for extra brightness.
- 2 oz tea infused spirit (see my favorites below)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 4 oz boiling hot water
- splash of cream or squeeze of lemon
- Add honey to cup. Pour boiling water over and stir just until dissolved.
- Add cream (for black teas) or lemon (for herbal teas) and top with the tea infused spirit.
- Tip: to pour tea directly from the kettle into the cup — the best table-side presentation — measure out how much you’ll need before boiling (8 oz for two cups, 16 oz for four, etc), and then just divide evenly between the cups.
- Tip #2: If you’re adding cream, make sure to use heavy cream (not half and half), and pour in the alcohol as slowly as possible, without stirring (the differing temperatures and densities will essentially stir themselves) to reduce the chance of the cream ‘breaking,’ or looking curdled and spoiled. But the good news is, if it curdles anyway, it will taste the same and is perfectly safe to drink. Some people just don’t like the look.
- FOR EARL GREY INFUSED ANEJO TEQUILA: Add 1 teaspoon of loose earl grey tea to 1 cup of añejo tequila. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh sieve.
- CHAMOMILE INFUSED RYE: Add a heaping tablespoon of loose leaf chamomile tea to one cup of rye. Cover and let sit for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, then strain through a fine mesh sieve.
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