Monday, 15 June 2015

Tease Maid Cocktail

The journey to creating this cocktail has been a long one, that began as a conversation, more than a year ago, over tea and cake, at a Secret Tea Society meeting. Brought together by a love of tea, gin and conversation, Sarah (Sass) Allard shared with me, her vision for an exclusive, yet relaxed Tea Lounge where like minded people could come together and enjoy some exceptional teas. We discussed the possibility of my creating a cocktail for her that would encapsulate her vision and would, one day, grace the incredibly chic tables of her Tea Lounge. It was important to create a cocktail that would be enjoyed by all at the Tea Lounge, but equally, it had to represent Sarah herself as the lounge will be an embodiment of her personal vision.

With that in mind, it was imperative that the cocktail should contain tea in some shape or form and knowing that Sarah is more than partial to the rich, malty flavour of Assam, the first ingredient was assured. Deciding on spirits was slightly more complex - regular followers will know that I am a bit of a gin geek and was therefore bursting with ideas for gin/tea based cocktails. However, much as Sarah enjoys gin, her real passion is for rum; with her Trinidadian heritage, the spirit of the Caribbean runs through her veins and so the spirit of the Caribbean was to run through this cocktail.

Rum and tea have long been traditional bedfellows although it's often served as a hot drink, and creating a martini style drink that would be enjoyed by all, proved trickier than I had first envisaged. Part of the problem was the tea itself; results in the strength of the brewed tea varied slightly, which significantly changed the taste of the cocktail. Add to that, the fact that the tea continued to infuse, even after the leaves were removed, causing the flavour to become bitter and woody, it soon became apparent that another solution was necessary. The cocktail also had to be something that could be prepared in a reasonable amount of time, if it was to appear on the menu of the Tea Lounge and so, the idea of an Assam Peach Concentrate was conceived. This could be prepared in advance, in large quantities, if necessary and stored safely in the fridge. After the initial effort of making the concentrate, the building of the cocktail would be relatively simple.

When it came to choosing a rum, I wanted something with lots of spice and vanilla that would compliment the malty flavour of the tea and fragrant sweetness of peach. Rumbullion navy strength Caribbean rum is tailor made for the job - it's a high proof rum (42.6% ABV), flavoured with Madagascan vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Delicious enough to drink neat, it's a worthy addition to the drinks cabinet, plus it comes in a rather fabulous bottle...

So, before I impart the recipe for the Tease Maid cocktail, I must just share with you a few details about Sarah (Sass) Allard and her upcoming Tea Lounge. The fabulously apt name, 'Tease Maid' was conceived by her and sums up perfectly, the spirit of the drink. The 'Tease Maid' character that graces the bottle and martini glass featured in this post, was created by me and I used Sarah herself, as my inspiration. The Tea Lounge is (at the time of publication of this post) still in the conceptual stage, but you can follow Sarah, and I urge you to do so, on twitter (@teapreneur_girl) and Facebook (teapreneur) to keep up to date with all her news.

Tease Maid Cocktail

2oz Rumbullion
2oz Assam Peach Concentrate
1oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
sprig of mint to garnish

Add everything, bar the mint, to cocktail shaker, with a handful of ice.

With the lid firmly closed, shake until the outside of the shaker develops a frosty bloom (about 20secs).

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Slap the mint gently between the palms of your hands to release the minty aroma and garnish the drink.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Assam Peach Concentrate

Making cocktails with tea is tricky as the brew continues infusing, even once the leaves are removed and if not used immediately, can become bitter and woody. This is particularly apparent when using a strong, black tea such as Assam, but making a syrup or fruit concentrate, can avoid the problem and if refrigerated, will last for a week or so. The rich, malty flavour of golden tip assam is particularly suited to a peach concentrate and will combine with most spirits to make delicious tea based cocktails. It was originally conceived as an integral part of the Tease Maid Cocktail, a delicious blend of Rumbullion spiced rum and Assam Peach Concentrate, that was created for Sarah Allard, to encapsulate her vision for an exclusive Tea Lounge.

Initially I made this using fresh peaches which I blanched, skinned and de-stoned, but after trying it made with canned peaches in juice, rather than syrup, I can testify that it tastes just as good. So, unless you have an enormous surfeit of peaches to use up, save yourself the trouble and buy a good quality can or bottle of peach halves in juice.

The tea should be a high quality, loose, golden tip assam such as Jing Assam Gold; the flavour is characteristically malty with notes of fruit and spice. Jing Tea stock great teas from the best producers, across the world. They supply luxury hotels and top restaurants across 75 countries worldwide. I fell in love with their teas after tasting their Organic Bohea Lapsang Supreme at Asia de Cuba in London and have been treating myself ever since.

Assam Peach Concentrate (makes about a pint)

20g Jing Assam Gold Tea
1 x 400g can of peaches in juice (drained)
120g white sugar
500ml just boiled water

Using a blender, purée the drained peaches and set aside in a bowl, sprinkled over with the white sugar.

If possible, make a little sachet to hold the tea, using a scrap of muslin cloth, ensuring it is securely tied so that it remains tightly shut when the water is poured over.

Using 500ml just boiled water, pour over the sachet and allow to steep for two and half minutes.

Remove the sachet, taking care not to burn your fingers and squeeze to extract all the tea.

Pour the still, hot tea over the purée and stir until all of the  sugar has dissolved.

Cover with a muslin cloth until cooled, then transfer o an airtight container and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Using the muslin cloth, strain the mixture into a clear receptacle, ensuring every drop of liquid is extracted. Discard any solids that remain and store the liquid, refrigerated, in an airtight container.

Shake well before use.