Purists will tell you that an exceptional quality tea is best enjoyed as simply as possible—mindfully brewed and served plain, without additions like honey, milk, or lemon. And while the devoted tea lover in me agrees that less is more where tea appreciation is concerned, the culinary adventurer in me occasionally likes to bring the complex flavors of my favorite beverages into other recipes. Making a tea-infused simple syrup is a perfect way to do this!
Why Make a Tea Syrup?
A premium tea contains a symphony of flavors and aromas, balancing fruity, bitter, smoky, earthy, vegetal, sweet, and tangy notes for harmony in each sip. These carefully crafted flavor collections shine on their own, but I’ve found that layering them over a suitable (and tasty) backdrop can help aspects of their specialness stand out even more.
Tea can be used to flavor foods and other beverages in a variety of ways, but a tea syrup lets you conveniently add it to culinary applications, like desserts and drinks. The consistency of syrup is ideal for drizzling over ice cream or pastry, and it also dissolves readily into cocktails, lemonades, and other beverages. Appropriately, they are also “simple” to make!
How to Make Simple Syrup with Loose Tea
The basic elements of a homemade tea syrup can be applied to any of your favorite tea varieties: combine tea, water, and sugar (and a few drops of citrus for freshness), and then stir, heat to thicken, and strain. I’ve included a basic recipe with suggested proportions below.
However, note that the amount of tea needed will vary with the type used. For example, this basic recipe using two teaspoons of organic Assam black to create the syrup used in the sangria recipe below, but when I made a Nepali Green Pearl tea syrup for a different cocktail, I found I only needed half as much tea to achieve the desired strength. So think of this recipe as a guide. Prepare to adjust the tea amount as needed to please your palate.
Basic Tea Syrup Recipe
Makes about 1 cup.
- 1 cup/200 g granulated sugar
- 1 cup/240 ml water
- A few drops fresh, organic lemon juice
- 2 tsp. premium organic loose-leaf tea of your choice (adjust amount to taste)
- Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan.
- Bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and continue to stir until all sugar is dissolved and mixture is slightly thickened and syrupy (about 3 to 6 minutes).
- Remove from heat and let cool fully.
- Strain and discard tea leaves.
- Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Tea Syrup Cocktails
It’s hardly surprising that teas and mixed drinks play well together. After all, tea-infused spirits have become a popular fixture on store shelves and happy hour menus. Tea syrups can add complexity to classic cocktail recipes, and they can also be used to create intriguing non-alcoholic mixed drinks, like artisanal lemonades and Italian sodas.
This sangria, featuring an Assam black tea syrup and a direct infusion of Darjeeling First Flush, will hold well refrigerated for three or four days. Any Darjeeling will work here, but our organic Darjeeling First Flush plays up the tea's fruit flavors particularly well!
Black Tea Pear Sangria Recipe
Makes about 8 servings.
- 1/4 cup/10 g organic loose-leaf Darjeeling First Flush black tea
- 6 cups/1.4 L hot water (about 210° F/100° C)
- 1 (750 ml) bottle of vinho verde, or a nice dry white wine of your choice (you can replace this with more Darjeeling for a non-alcoholic version)
- 3 pears, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup apple brandy
- 1 Tbsp. homemade Assam black tea simple syrup (see Basic Tea Syrup Recipe above)
- Place tea leaves in large pitcher and pour boiling water on top.
- Let steep 3 minutes.
- Strain out and discard leaves, and return liquid to pitcher.
- Let cool to room temperature.
- Add chilled white wine, pears, apple, apple brandy, and simple syrup to taste.
- Chill, overnight if possible, to give flavors time to meld.
- Serve over ice.
Tea Syrup & Ice Cream
Ice cream drizzle toppings don’t have to stop at chocolate, caramel, and strawberry! The creamy richness of your favorite scoop is perfect for bringing out the subtle flavors in a DIY tea syrup.
Here are some tips for pairing tea toppings and ice cream flavors:
- Black tea syrups pair well with vanilla bean, matcha, and berry ice-creams.
- Green tea syrups pair with vanilla bean, caramel, and nutty ice creams.
- Oolong tea syrups pair well with fruity, coffee, and coconut ice creams.
Wondering how all that flavor gets into your tea?
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Mitra Dunn, Graphic Designer
Growing up in Persia, tea runs in Mitra's blood. But it was while living and working in the Pacific Northwest that she truly found herself immersed in the beverage and all its delicious forms, and she continues to be delighted by the international and cultural nuances that it represents. Mitra has been active as an artist and designer for most of her adult life, and is very happy to bring her passion for tea and design to Young Mountain Tea.