There are teas and then there are cocktails — both usually served for totally different occasions and pretty much always sold separately. Unless you’re looking at a green tea shot, which already doesn’t contain real green tea (!), the odds of seeing tea and alcohol mixed drinks are far and few. But alas, TikTokers have (thankfully) revived the classic cup and given the herbal favorite a super spiked makeover. Enter: Earl Grey Old Fashioned and Bourbon Sweet Tea, just to name a couple of concoctions to get you familiar with the social media trend.
But actually, though. The hashtag #teacocktail already has a total of 1.4 million views (and counting), plus a wide variety of tea-infused alcoholic sips that are equal parts surprising and delicious-looking. If you’re intrigued, peep this blackberry ginger tea creation otherwise known as a Teablo or the Chamomile Collins, which is a little more on the soothing side for all of the nightcaps to come. Maybe you have a sweet tooth, in which case you should opt for this pineapple rum chai sour that is, yes, still sweet despite the name.
To gain a bit of expert insight on this unlikely trend, we spoke to tea experts Claire Hagerstrom and Lindsay Kluge. Hagerstrom works as the Tea Master and Senior Packaging & Processing Engineer at ekaterra, the holding company of TAZO and Lipton tea brands. Kluge is a Licensed Nutritionist and Lead Herbalist at Pukka Herbs. Working professionally in the tea space, both experts have given the tea cocktail trend their bona fide stamp of approval.
“I love that herbal teas are having their time to shine in the cocktail space! Herbal teas carry so much delicious flavor and can be a great combo with some alcohols. Not only do herbal teas carry unique flavors, they offer some therapeutic benefits as well,” Kluge tells Bustle. “Chamomile will stimulate digestion prior to your meal, ginger encourages healthy circulation, fennel helps to process hard to digest foods, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, and lavender is very calming.”
One of the most popular tea cocktails is the Earl Grey Old Fashioned, as mixed by TikTok cocktail connoisseur Hannah Chamberlain (@spiritedla on TikTok). Made with homemade earl grey syrup, bourbon, orange bitters, and lemon to garnish, this Old Fashioned with a twist is the perfect introduction to tea-based cocktails.
If you’re wondering whether this drink — or any tea cocktail for that matter — should be served hot or iced, Hagerstrom has a few notes. “Tea cocktails can be served hot or iced, so do not limit yourself to just cold cocktails. Try spiked chais in the winter, and tea and lemonade mojitos in the summer,” she tells Bustle.
When brewing hot tea, Hagerstrom also suggests to “brew your tea twice as strong as you need so that when you cool it down with ice, it is the correct dilution.” Brownie points for mastering an iced tea cocktail without losing flavor.
Another 21-and-over homage to earl grey tea is this simple Earl Grey Cocktail, stirred by @fishfoodcottage on TikTok. The elegant mixed drink is made with earl grey tea, purple Empress gin, honey, lemon juice, and two sprigs of lavender to garnish. I feel calmer just watching this recipe come to life.
For those who are craving a grown-up take on sweet tea, this Bourbon Sweet Tea by @join_jules on TikTok is a buzzed version of the peachy Southern classic. Made with homemade peach simple syrup, bourbon, lemon juice, and either sun tea or black tea, this cocktail is certified for summer.
What To Know Before Making A Tea Cocktail
Now that you’re more informed on the tea cocktail trend, the experts have a few last-minute golden rules (more like suggestions, but still) to have in mind before mixing up your own afternoon delight.
For serving up your next tea cocktail, Hagerstrom says any glass will work. “There are so many different cocktails that can be made with tea, so glasses from martini glasses to Moscow mule copper cups can be used,” she tells Bustle.
Kluge adds, “You can let your creativity run wild with this one. Anything from a fancy tea cup and saucer to a classy martini glass to show off the vibrant color of the herbs in use!”
It is also worth noting that temperature is a key factor in tea cocktail taste. Kluge recommends crafting a tea concentrate beforehand for maximum taste potency. You can do this by adding four to five bags of tea to one cup of boiling water, allowing to cool, then bringing in mix-ins and other syrups later. So grab your favorite box of tea along with your spirit of choice and drink up. No need to keep your pinkies up here.