Tea liquor is a term that you may have come across a few times. Many tea vendors and tea connoisseurs use the phrase when they are talking about the taste, texture, aroma and other features associated with a beverage. However, what they are exactly talking about is a misconception to a large number of people, while some simply wonder what the term tea liquor or the liquor of tea actually means. On the other hand, some simply assume the meanings and end up getting the wrong picture of the whole idea of the tea liquor.
Have you also wondered the same? Here’s a complete guide that takes you through everything you need to know about tea liquor. It will help you gain an in-depth study into the same, while also talking about the varieties of the tea liquor, the elements that define it, and so much more!
What is the Term Tea Liquor Mistaken For?
It’s a very common practice to confuse the idea of tea liquor with things like tea infused beer, or a beverage that has got tea as one of its ingredients, such as tea-vodka blends, or wine combined with tea. However, it’s essential to understand that tea liquor doesn’t refer to a combination of tea with one or more alcoholic drinks such as brandy, rum, or vodka.
Some people also think that tea liquor is a beverage prepared by adding a concentrated liquid to tea after infusion, which can sport flavors like licorice and fruits. This is a common misconception, as the term tea liquor is solely associated with the process of brewing and steeping the leaves.
What Is Tea Liquor Exactly?
In the most simplified words, the infusion is actually the ‘tea liquor’. To explain better, tea liquor is the liquid that you get by brewing or steeping tea leaves in water. While most people simply call it tea, tea connoisseurs, and tea sommeliers usually call this resulting blend with noticeable hues, textures and other features as tea liquor. Once again, it doesn’t come with any alcoholic content nor does it refer to the addition of alcohol to brewed tea.
Related Article: How to Become a Certified Tea Sommelier?
What Stage of Tea Preparation Brings Out the Liquor of Tea?
The liquor of tea actually comes into existence from the moment infusion takes place between the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. In other words, it’s prepared the moment you have prepared the blend and can actually define it as black, white, green, oolong and more. In fact, whenever you are talking about these characteristics of the brew or steep, you are talking about the tea liquor. All the tea in the world has liquor to it, and once infusion happens, it undergoes various changes.
Why is a Cup of Prepared Tea Called Liquor?
No matter what’s the type or variety of the tea leaves, when you brew a cup of tea, it no longer is a cup of water. Instead, it has changed in terms of its composition and other characteristics. Apart from the fact that it has developed depth, fragrance, taste, and color, it also turns thicker in terms of viscosity than pure liquid. And that’s why a cup of prepared tea is often called liquor.
Tea Liquor Varieties
Just like there are a thousand different varieties of tea, there are numerous varieties of tea liquors. Interestingly, types of tea liquors are not only limited to the kind of tea leaves they are made from. In fact, even when you are using the same leaves, each infusion yields a unique liquor. Every time, it changes and keeps evolving in terms of the flavor, the aroma, the color and more!
How Various Tea Liquors Differ From Each Other
Each tea liquor varies from the other, and below are the chief elements that play a key role in defining the kind of liquor that the tea leaves make.
1. Color and Strength
The most evident part that defines the liquor of tea is its visual appeal. The color, as well as the depth of color together, define the amount of tannin that the tea has brought out, while also defining how strong is the resulting blend. However, a stronger color doesn’t always come with a strong flavor. The various shades, including hues of green, copper, and more also make different liquors stand out from each other.
The aroma is perhaps, the most cherishing aspect that defines the tea liquor. Whether it’s the fragrance that oozes out from the blend or the aroma that travels up the nasal passage when you actually taste the blend, it makes the experience totally unique.
Thanks to the broad spectrum of tea varieties out there, tea liquors differ from each other in terms of the flavor. It may range from sweet to woody, bitter to earthy, mild to kick-starting strong, or addictingly smoky.
Once you take the sip of the blend, the tea liquor is always accompanied by a unique aftertaste that you experience at the back of the throat. Some liquors feature a sweet aftertaste, while others may feel quite bitter. In fact, there’s a whole range of aftertastes that one can experience with different teas around the world.
Difference Between Tea Liquor and Tea Cocktails
Usually, when someone mentions the word liquor, it brings the idea of an alcoholic drink to the mind. But actually, tea, of its own is termed as tea liquor when speaking in a more technical perspective.
Additionally, there’s a whole variety of alcoholic beverages or liquors that can be added to tea, thereby yielding interesting tea cocktails. Tea cocktails are prepared not only to bring out a new flavor to the resulting drink, but also to sooth the mind and relieve stress by calming the nerves.
One of the most common tea cocktails that have been prepared for centuries is a blend of brandy in tea, which was known to have calming effects on the body. Once the tea is brewed, you add the liquor to the beverage. Tea cocktail seemed to be relatively a more respectable drink than having plain alcohol. Although, the alcoholic drink will have the same relaxing effects on the body and mind, adding it to tea perhaps, was started to make the taste of the alcoholic beverage a lot more pleasant than the original.
How to Pair Tea Liquor with Alcoholic Liquor
What kind of alcoholic beverage goes with what kind of tea liquor largely depends on the whims and choices of the drinker or the mixologist. For beginners, the key is to taste the tea you would like to combine with some form of alcohol, further taking its color, concentration, and botanicals into close consideration.
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The constituting flora that actually makes the tea is the botanicals, which may be earthy, flowery, bright, and more. For example, a lot of herbal teas derive their flavor more from herbs or flowers. These teas yield the best results when paired with botanical forward liquors like gin. On the other hand, an alcoholic liquor with a stronger flavor like spiced rum can overpower the herbal tea flavors. But you can always pair herbal teas that feature strong spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, or cardamom with a stronger liquor.
When going for the concentration, you simply need to figure out how strong a taste you want to achieve from the blend in the final concoction. If you want to prepare a stronger flavor, it’s essential to brew a more condensed tea. Syrup infusions are usually the most common and easiest things used to control the flavor. You get more control over the blend in terms of the concentration when you brew a strong tea, further making it into a syrup. While preparing a paired concoction, all you need to do is add more flavored syrup in gradual increments until you achieve the desired flavor. Also, the heat that creates the syrup pulls more tannins from the brewed tea.
Colors play a major part when you combine the liquor of tea with an alcoholic drink. Generally, a brew that sports a darker color should be combined with a darker liquor, thereby ending up in an amazingly rich flavor. On the other hand, light colored brews taste best when they are paired with light colored liquors. Herbal teas are lighter in color, that’s why they pair best with gin or vodka. While black tea stands up best to whiskey, which is a darker liquor. Additionally, you can always combine flavored teas with liquors with a similar touch of flavor. For example, some people combine a strong chai with spiced rum.
If you are beginning to combine tea liquors with alcoholic drinks, make sure you start with lighter ones as teas can be easily overpowered by the latter.
Now that you have a more in-depth picture of what tea liquor actually means, it surely would be a great idea to define everything you love about your next brew with this interesting term. In fact, whenever we are talking about the features of the tea in our own way, we are actually simply describing the tea liquor itself!