According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, tea is the second most popular beverage in the world after only water, with the world drinking six billion cups of tea per day
So it should come as no surprise that the widely consumed drink is making its way into the alcohol market. Tea-based liquor has been around for a while, but only lately has it showcased its potential in the local bar scene as some of the country’s best mixologists demonstrated just what you can do with tea at Lipton’s TeaMagination campaign launch.
“I try to make the base more complex using tea as a catalyst,” says Kalel Demetrio, co-owner of Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen. “For me, it makes my concoctions more special.”
Demetrio regularly uses tea to add more flavor to his drinks, adopting all types of preparation methods, whether infused with liquors or distilled. At Agimat, tea is infused for months and even fermented over time to add depth to the flavor.
“My rule in crafting drinks is that there are no rules,” says Demetrio. “I know that tea is usually served hot with water and milk but as a liquid artist, I try to make anything work.”
For Faye Fernando, Diageo World Class 2017 finalist and currently the mixologist at Cove Manila in Okada, infusing tea as the base spirit to drinks like tea-infused vodka “gives the basic spirit a twist.” The twist will depend on what tea you’re using, but for Fernando’s Floral Sunset concoction, the Early Grey Tea gives the sweet drink an earthy tang that makes it almost nostalgic.
Meanwhile, for Giffard West Cup 2019 champion and NoKal Restaurant and Bar mixologist Jay Natividad, his bar’s chamomile tea cocktail is a huge hit with their East Asian customers. “It’s a gin-based, chamomile tea reduction with cloves, passion fruit syrup, and lemon topped with soda water.”
On top of the unstoppable milk tea craze, Natividad experimented with English Breakfast Tea to craft his #MTotd cocktail that adds a touch of dark rum to the popular milk tea drink.
A Johnnie Walker World Class Competition finalist and Drinks Be With You co-founder, Glenn Talavera brews his black tea with coconut water to create a tea-base for liquor concoctions. He admits that customers are a bit reluctant to try it when they hear of its ingredients. “But once they do [try it], they are surprised by how the combination works well together.”
Talavera’s Bakit di COCOhanin concoction is also of notable mention as it blends local flavors to craft a fruity mocktail infused with black tea.
Some would argue that tea is an art, and the same can be said for mixology. When you combine the two, the creative possibilities are endless, proving just why tea-based liquor is the must-watch beverage trend of the year.