Coffee cocktails may be trendy, with everything from spiked lattés to caffeinated tiki drinks popping up on cocktail menus across the country. But tea, coffee’s demure, herbal cousin, has been behind the bar for centuries. In fact, people were using tea in cocktails before “cocktails” actually existed—it was an essential ingredient in many historic punches. Available in an incredible range of flavors from robust to spicy to fruity to floral, tea adds complexity and depth to almost any drink. Here, the best tea cocktail recipes to brew up. Go on now, steep to it.
7 Best Tea Cocktails to Brew up
Grandma always said the best cure for a cold was some hot tea with honey and lemon, but we’re willing to bet grandma was also sneaking a dram of whiskey into her teacup. The Hot Toddy is not just a folk remedy. It’s also a delicious, warming cocktail appropriate for consumption all winter long. Traditionally, the Hot Toddy is made with just hot water, but it’s even more comforting when brewed with your favorite tea instead.
Bartenders around the world have made the Planter’s Punch their own by mixing this tiki classic with a wide variety of rums, tropical juices and spices. While you can, of course, choose your own adventure, we find the blend of overproof Jamaican rum, fresh lime juice, demerara syrup and chilled black tea to be a delightful go-to recipe. Crushed ice and a sprig of mint make this simple cocktail even more refreshing.
While the infamous Long Island Iced Tea can be divisive, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Making the traditionally tea-free cocktail with real tea is a welcome innovation. Cold-brewed black tea and homemade tea syrup amp up this multi-spirited drink. You’ll never reach for that bottle of Coke again.
All Clear Spirits
Cold-Brewed Black Tea
It’s practically your patriotic duty to imbibe this American classic. It was created in Philly back in 1732 before the nation was even formed—even President George Washington was a fan. The large batch of rum, Cognac, peach brandy, lemon juice and black tea is deceptively sippable, but it packs a boozy wallop. They say Washington couldn’t write in his diary for three days after a night of Fish House Punch.
Another Revolutionary War-era favorite, whiskey punch makes for a bold and delicious party drink. Our take on the historic classic combines spicy rye with bittersweet Montenegro Amaro, Cognac, citrus and iced black tea. The cozy blend tastes particularly delicious in the autumn, but it keeps the party going all year round.
Black Tea, Iced
Matcha + Avocado = the ultimate hipster brunch drink. This stellar cocktail from Melrose Umbrella Co. in Los Angeles includes smoky-sweet, plum-infused mezcal, avocado, agave, lime juice and bright matcha green tea powder for a creamy yet light brunch-tail.
Honey aloe tea is the secret ingredient in this fruity Daiquiri-variation. Reduced to an herbal syrup, it balances a mix of funky rhum agricole, sweet strawberry liqueur and tart lime juice. It tastes like strawberry Jell-O—if it happened to be prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.