I adore our friend @Chef_Jay for a number of reasons, one of them being that without him, I would never know what food day it is. By following Jay’s tweets, I always know that National Grilled Cheese Day, National Candy Month or, in the case of today, National Iced Tea Day is just around the corner.
Sometimes I actually get my act together enough to put together a timely post. Due to food coma (thank you, Ritz-Carlton Kapalua and Kapalua Wine & Food Festival), this post wasn’t ready for this morning, but, I’m committing to getting it up before indulging in any more pool time.
I love tea. Particularly green tea. It used to be difficult to find green tea-flavored items, but over the past years, it’s become quite trendy it seems, and it pops up everywhere. And now, we’re seeing tea-flavored vodkas and “sweet tea” vodka and liqueurs all over the place. Personally, I prefer making my own.
I found this post online some time ago, and it’s been my guide to infusing vodka ever since.
To make my vodka, I use Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls. It sounds incredibly stupid and pretentious (like something non-Chinese people made up to market a product, or that Chinese people made up in order to convince non-Chinese people that it’s totally awesome and inscrutably Asian…sorry, I digress), but I love this tea. It’s made of young green tea leaves and jasmine petals rolled into little balls (unfortunately, they do resemble rabbit poops). We have a Lupicia store nearby, so I get it there, but they don’t seem to offer it online. You might try another source, like this one.
Build/Make/Craft/Bake advises steeping the tea in vodka and checking on it every 10 minutes once it gets to the 30-minute mark. I use approximately 1 tablespoon of Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls for 375ml vodka (about a cup and a half). Checking it compulsively to make sure it doesn’t get bitter is a lovely excuse to keep sipping vodka, but I find about an hour is good for infusing it with a nice jasmine tea taste without bitterness. (Build/Make/Craft/Bake made me paranoid about imparting a bitter taste, but since I obsessively tasted and pulled out the tea as soon as I felt the vodka was tea-y enough, I truly have no idea at what point—if ever—it gets bitter.) I do my infusing in a large glass mason jar (make sure it’s really clean and doesn’t have any weird smells from whatever it contained before). Line a funnel with a coffee filter and use it to strain/pour the vodka into a clean bottle for storage. Whenever we get sample bottles of vodka, I save them just for this purpose.
As for creating an “iced tea” cocktail with this vodka, it all came about when a friend shared her CSA box bounty with us, challenging me to come up with a dinner using the contents of the box, Chopped chef-style. The box also contained these very strange wrinkly limes.
At first, I thought that she’d been shafted by the CSA people and given old limes. I texted her, “WTF are these wrinkly things?!” “Kaffir limes!” I was informed. Hunh. Well, learn something new every day. So, it turns out that kaffir limes, the leaves of which I frequently see in the grocery store, are pretty ugly. (I still don’t know why we see the leaves in the store, but not the fruit.) They have, however, a wonderfully intense and somewhat floral taste. (I had to Google them so I could figure out how to incorporate them into our dinner.)
Having learned that, I thought they’d pair fantastically with my jasmine tea vodka. Since the dinner had ended up with an Asian theme, I called it an “Asian Iced Tea Martini” (I never said I was above naming things to sound totally awesome and inscrutably Asian) and served it up as a pre-dinner cocktail. They were so popular, I had to run back to our apartment to get ingredients to make a second round for everyone! (After that, we ran out of kaffir lime juice.)
If Long Island Iced Teas aren’t your thing, this is a refreshing, lighter alternative.
Sugar’s Asian Iced Tea Martini
- 2 oz. jasmine tea-infused vodka
- 1 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
- ½ oz. kaffir lime juice
- ¼ to ½ oz. honey syrup* (depending on how sweet you like your iced tea or cocktails)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. (Time saver for large groups: combine the ingredients in a large pitcher first, portion out and shake individually or in twos.)
*To make honey syrup: Combine 2 parts honey to 1 part boiling water. Stir and allow to cool. If honey isn’t easily poured, slowly add boiling water until sufficiently thinned. It should still remain somewhat syrup-y, otherwise the flavor and sweetness will be too diluted.