Despite our national obsession with tea, its more chilled sibling, iced tea, keeps a fairly low profile on most British drinks menus, being much more closely associated with the US, particularly in the humid southern states.
Tea-based cocktails* are worth sampling, though, especially if you’re open to experimenting with a variety of tea blends to get the flavour profile you prefer. Black teas offer a classic iced tea taste but for a more grassy, vegetal edge, try green tea, or explore herbal teas and tisanes to hit fruitier, floral or spicier notes. Always brew hot before chilling in the fridge or freezer before mixing.
Mint Julep Iced Tea
Take the leaves from a sprig of fresh mint and muddle with plenty of lemon and lime slices in a 2-litre jug. Stir in approximately 200mls of bourbon and 600mls of cooled, sweetened tea. Allow to infuse and serve over ice, garnished with mint sprigs and extra citrus slices.
Shake a double measure of Earl Grey-infused gin (make your own by adding 4 Earl Grey teabags to a container with a bottle of gin and leaving to steep for a few hours before decanting back into the bottle) with a short measure of orange juice, a splash of lemon juice and a squeeze of runny honey. Serve in a martini glass with a twist of orange.
Fill a highball glass with ice and pour in a measure of whisky, followed by a shot of peach liqueur (or peach schnapps). Top with 100mls-or-so of cooled unsweetened tea (the liqueur adds all the necessary sweetness to this cocktail) and stir to combine thoroughly. Garnish with slices of lemon and fresh peaches before serving.
The classic martini is the perfect foundation for a tea-based alterna-tini** Simply shake vodka, tea, and lemon juice with ice before serving in a chilled cocktail glass. Switch the flavours up with a variety of fruit juices.
*Oddly enough, Long Island Iced Tea, the poster child for tea-inspired cocktails, contains no tea whatsoever. This potent blend of rum, vodka, gin, tequila and triple sec is so named after its superficial resemblance to iced tea (possibly a Prohibition-era hangover).