Summer is on the way and what is more refreshing than a nice ice cold glass of iced tea to cool you off? For me, its much more relaxing with a little kick in it. Sweet tea vodkas are becoming more and more popular all over the U.S. with flavors like lemon, peach, raspberry, and even mint. While some are obviously better than others, it seems to me that they all have one thing in common- they taste artificial. There are so many proven health benefits from drinking tea, why would you settle for a ‘tea flavored’ spirit with artificial flavors, added caffeine, and artificial coloring? You shouldn’t have to! So- whats a tea loving drinker to do? Why make your own of course! The vast array of teas readily available at your local grocery store, internet, and coffeehouses gives you literally an infinite amount of choices when it come to making your own sweet tea vodka. The best part is- you can make a few different kinds for less than a bottle of Absolut’s new Wild Tea. No more shelling out $19.99 for a vodka that may just end up collecting dust (or being passed on to unsuspecting house guests).
For this easy project you will only need 4 ingredients:
1 bottle of vodka (for help on choosing one, see “‘What is the BEST Vodka”)
*When using a 1 liter bottle, read entire article first.
Tea (can be in bags, loose, or a combination of both)
I usually use between 10 -12 servings of tea (10 – 12 bags, or 10 - 12 teaspoons of loose tea), depending on how strong you prefer the final product and what you’ll be mixing it with. For lighter flavors, such as green tea or fruity flavors, you can use a little more so the flavor doesn’t get lost when you mix it. To prepare the tea infusion first take out 4 oz of vodka from the bottle (besides, who doesn’t need a few drinks while infusing vodka?) Then drop in the loose tea, or bags with the tags hanging out, replace the cap and give it a good shake. Place your tea infusion in a cool dark spot for about a week, giving it a good shake once every day. When the infusion smells strongly of tea and has the same color as a fully steeped cup, you are ready to prepare your simple syrup.
Simple syrup is an absolute necessity in every well stocked bar, and anyone who has ever tried to add sugar to a cold glass of iced tea can easily understand why. Sugar just doesn’t like to dissolve in cold liquids. The simple way to get around this is to dissolve the sugar in water first to create a syrup that easily mixes into your new tea infusion. Add 1 part sugar to 1 part boiling water, stir until completely dissolved, and let cool. Store your syrup in a glass bottle or jar and it will stay good in your chill chest for about 2 weeks.
Now that we have our tea infusion and our sweetener ready it’s time for the fun part- the mixers! You can use just about anything you think will go well with your new tea vodka . The flavor combinations are endless! Try using fresh squeezed lemonade for an amazing John Daly. Cranberry juice is a great addition to lighter fruit flavored teas like peach or raspberry. Simply add 1 1/4 oz of tea vodka to a glass filled with ice, fill almost to the top with your mixer, and add a splash or two of your simple syrup to taste. If you prefer you can add your simple syrup directly to the bottle of tea vodka so you won’t have to waste time later. To calculate the proportions just pour out 1 oz of your vodka and measure how much syrup it takes to sweeten it to your liking. Then multiply that measurement by 20 (there is 20 oz left in your 750 ml bottle) and add directly to the bottle.
Celebrate your success by having a few friends over for some of your hand crafted cocktails, and experiment with new names and flavor combinations. Once you have perfected the infusion process you can even split the bottle up and try a couple different flavors at once! Just make sure you are infusing in glass containers, alcohol tends to pick up some funky flavors from plastic. Below are a couple of my favorite flavor combinations, but feel free think outside the box on this one!
Chai tea vodka with fresh squeezed lemonade
Strawberry rooibos tea with cranberry juice
Hibiscus tea with orange juice
Ginger tea with home-made peach iced tea
Mint tea with soda water
*When using a 1 liter bottle take out 6 oz of vodka, use about 15 servings of tea, and multiply your simple syrup proportion by 27.