Yunnan Red Iced Tea – a cocktail
A few weeks ago, I found myself at the most unexpectedly swish party I ever did experience.
A jet black Mercedes took me from my door to the red carpeted entrance of a private residence on the water at Darling Point, where I was whisked upstairs and handed cocktail after cocktail made by none other than world renowned mixologist Tony Conigliaro (shipped over from his usual haunt in the United Kingdom).
When I made it home, some blurry hours later (and after conversations of cowboy boots with spurrs and a cab ride with the very lovely men from Man of Many) I found, in my hand a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red, inscribed with my name, and a steely determination to never drink again.
Well, at least not until the weekend hit.
I found some notes on my phone a couple of days ago – presumably from the evening as they’re dated as such, though my recollection of making those notes is faint – which had my mind swimming in whiskey all over again.
“Tea!” they said, “cold brewed?”
Then later, “Lemongrass syrup for the tropics. I love the tropics. Also holidays.”
Further down, in amongst the medley of jumbled letters, I made out the words “Yunnan Red. From Yunnan, not Long Island.”
Apparently my brain works well under the influence.
My very sober brain put the ingredients for this cocktail together on a warm and windy Wednesday… well, it made the ingredients the day before (it’s one of those cocktails that takes a bit of preparation), and decided on an alcoholic iced tea with actual tea in it as the result.
Cold brewed loose leaf Yunnan Red tea leaves, steeped overnight in lukewarm water.
An aromatic lemongrass, kaffir lime & vanilla syrup for fragrance and a rounder, more syrupy mouth feel.
A splash of ginger beer for the constitution and shot of Johnnie Walker Red for the same.
(Yes, that’s the Black Label in the pictures, but my bottle of Red Label simply wouldn’t fit on the tray!)
Smooth and refreshing, sweet and herbal with a little kicker at the end.
I served them in short glasses over ice and with some cucumber strips, but you could just as easily make a jugful and sip it from your daintiest teacups in the upcoming Summer heat whilst dreaming of Chinese mountains and whiskeyed, mustachioed men.
- 1 tsp looseleaf Yunnan Red tea leaves
- 400ml lukewarm water
- 3 stalks of lemongrass
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- ½ vanilla bean
- 1 cup sugar
- 250ml water
- 2 shots Johnnie Walker Red Label
- 200ml ginger ale
- sliced cucumber & ice
- You will need to start this recipe the day before.
- On the first day, put one teaspoon of loose leaf Yunnan Red tea into a glass jar or plunger. Add 400ml lukewarm water (it should be just a little warm to touch). Leave it to steep overnight and strain the liquid from the tea leaves in the morning, reserving the tea leaves.
- Next we make the syrup. Crush the lemongrass by giving it a good bash about with a mallet or the end of a knife before putting it in a saucepan. Add the kaffir lime leaves, vanilla bean, sugar and 250ml water. Heat, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved then transfer the entire mixture to a jar. Put a lid on the jar and leave to steep overnight.
- To assemble the cocktail the next day, place 1 shot of the lemongrass syrup, 3 shots of tea and 2 shots of Johnnie Walker Red Label in a jug or shaker.Stir well before adding the ginger ale and briefly stirring again.
- Fill two glasses with ice and cucumber and pour the cocktail over the top to serve.
disclaimer: onebitemore received an invite to the par-tay and the pictured bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label as a gift from Diageo. She hopes they don’t regret her somewhat-rowdy attendance at said par-tay. Hey!