Artisanal blenders Dhiraj Arora and Priti Sen of Karma Kettle, a specialty tea company based in Kolkata, have got brewing down to a T. They wish tea-infused beverages such as black tea toddy, hibiscus tea margaritas, green tea vodka and gin teas would find a place on bar menus in India. On the tea trail…

tea cocktail
Tahiti tea cocktail

Despite being a healthy substitute for synthetic mixes and syrups in cocktails, bartenders shy away from experimenting with it, laments Dhiraj. How does one create a strong tea tincture base? “Steep tea leaves in hot water for at least six to eight minutes. Don’t add too much ice or sugar to prevent the flavour from being diluted,” is his counsel.

To get the most out of your concoction along the tea trail, use immediately after bringing it down to room temperature. The result is a full-bodied tea with a fresh aroma. There is a nutritional angle too, for tea-infused beverages, explains Chennai-based nutritionist Deepalekha Bhattacharjee: “Preserving tea for long periods messes with its taste. The oxidation slowly diminishes the robustness turning it bitter. Store it for up to four days in the refrigerator, in airtight containers to get the best results.” There is another advantage: Bring down sugar consumption by replacing sweet fruit juices with tea brews with smoothies and drinks.

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon tea cocktail: Karma Kettle

Cook it up
Tea is versatile, both in leaf and infusion forms. It can either be sipped or eaten. For instance, Matcha tea can go beyond just a sprinkle in the milkshake. “Powder the leaves and mix it with marinades for grilling meats and vegetables,” suggests Bhattacharjee. Green tea tastes a lot like spinach. “Tea salad dressings are exciting. Green tea leaves complement oregano and thyme beautifully. You can powder the leaves and mix them with butter, oil and a dot of lemon juice.

Try using black tea and Oolong in cooking and baking. “Lapsang souchong or a smoked tea works well for meat rubs and marinades, smoking meat, fish, mushroom, tofu, salad dressings or adding an extra smoky umami touch to broths and sauces,” says Arora.

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard

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