January or early winter is a time to slow down, cocoon and reflect. Many of us make resolutions often involving better self-care and wellness. Especially after a busy holiday season when most traditions revolve around shared elaborate meals with friends and family, one craves simpler and lighter fare. The new year is also a symbol of new beginnings and rejuvenation for many and an occasion to form new habits for better physical and mental health. Dry January seems to have become ever more popular for this reason. Even though it is not new to many who choose not to drink alcoholic beverages at all, many of us try to refrain from alcoholic consumption for a week, a month or longer and look for interesting alternate options.
Tea is a fantastic ingredient to make fun and delicious beverages, whether you need a refreshing mid-week drink to gather with friends or a festive and elegant weekend cocktail!
The natural tannins and caffeine in tea create energizing drinks with depth of flavor. Fruits, roots and botanicals offer more soothing options that will still delight your palate with their multidimensional sensory range. Not only will your drink be zero proof, but you will get all the health benefits of the tea you use.
I like my tea mocktails to have a high tea content (at least half) and I start by either brewing a pot of tea in the morning or early afternoon and letting it cool down to room temperature or cold brewing the night before. I suggest brewing a strong tea (up to ½ more tea) since it will be diluted with the mixer in the drink. For added fizz, I like to cold brew in water from my soda machine, but you can also use sparkling water from the store. Try choosing a brand with lower mineral content like Perrier or San Pellegrino to avoid a salty taste.
Sparkling waters, tonic, ginger beer, or sparkling fruit cocktails complement the tea base. They will either pick up one flavor of your tea and enhance it or will balance the tea base with either more acidity or sweetness to create a new flavor.
A simple syrup, a drop of syrup from canned fruit, a muddled piece of fruit or zest are create a perfect equilibrium.
Simple syrups can easily be home-made by bringing equal part sugar and water to a simmer. Turn off the heat after a few minutes and let it cool down. *For a ginger simple syrup, add a few slices of fresh ginger that you can leave in the bottle and keep for a few days in the fridge.
Ginger Turmeric Tonic
½ cup of strong Ginger Turmeric Tisane cooled to room temperature
1/3 cup lemon sparkling water (I used Fever-Tree Sparkling Lime & Yuzu)
1 tsp ginger simple syrup (see note *above).
Mix all ingredients together and pour over ice in a highball glass. Twist a lemon zest over the drink and drape it over the edge of the glass to decorate.
Very Berry Earl
½ cup strong French Earl Grey Black Tea cooled to room temperature
½ cup sparkling cranberry juice cocktail (such as Ocean Spray)
Shake Earl Grey Tea with ice in a shaker. Muddle 1 Tbsp pomegranate arils in a highball glass. Strain tea into the glass and add sparkling juice and some ice. Stir and decorate with pomegranate chunks.
White Lychee Fizz
1 tsp syrup from canned lychees
2 lychees (from a can)
Pour cold brewed tea over ice in a tall wine glass or champagne flute. Add 1 tsp of lychee syrup, stir and decorate with lychees.