There’s nothing quite as British as gin – except maybe a good cuppa (or tea infused gin).
And yet, just how British is gin – or tea, for that matter? Though gin’s long history in the UK, and the popularity of London Dry Gin as a style, mean that the spirit retains strong associations with all things British, we know that gin is technically a Dutch invention. Called genever, the first juniper-made spirits were distilled overseas before they made their way to our shores.
And tea? While it’s drunk with great gusto across Britain, our chilly climes aren’t exactly hospitable to growing the stuff. It’s said that tea drinking first began over 4,000 years ago in Imperial China, but it was once again the Dutch who can be credited with popularising it. Thanks to their trade base in Java, they had unique access to the crop, and were the first to bring tea to Europe in the early 1600s. We’ll take a moment to raise a glass to the Netherlands, and to the shared history of two of our favourite drinks.
We’ve tried it ourselves with Sipsmith London Cup, which contains Earl Grey alongside lemon verbena, bergamot, and other ingredients. But it isn’t just origin story that links the two. In matter of fact, tea and gin make excellent sipping partners. Tea is one of our favourite current cocktail additions, and for those who are really passionate about the idea, tea infused gin is the ultimate sip.
It’s said that tea drinking first began over 4,000 years ago in Imperial China
Take it from our Head Distiller Jared Brown: while tea infused gin is bound to impress any guests subject to your home-bartending, it’s not exactly difficult to make. As a rule of thumb, infuse one bottle of gin with three high-quality teabags (Earl Grey is our favourite). Leave them to sit for no longer than an hour to prevent the gin from extracting too many tannins from the tea. Et voila: your very own tea infused gin is ready for mixing.
Earl Grey Martini
One of our favourite tea cocktails is this Earl Grey Martini, inspired by New York cocktail maven Audrey Saunders’ Earl Grey Mar-Tea-Ni. Blending the floral and citrusy flavour of the tea with aromatic gin, it’s a delicious tipple – especially at teatime.
50 ml tea infused gin
25 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
25 ml simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water)
1 egg white
Combine all four ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake without any ice to fully emulsify the egg. Open and add very cold ice; shake again until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Print Club Punch
Dreamed up for our recent event in partnership with Print Club London, our Print Club Punch swaps out fragrant Earl Grey for strong and restorative builders tea. Given its potency, this tea infused gin needs to steep for only 20 minutes before the bags can be removed.
40ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin infused with builders tea
20ml fresh squeezed lemon juice
20ml simple syrup
20ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin (optional; if sloe gin is added, the drink might need another 5ml lemon juice)
Fill a large wineglass full of ice. Combine all ingredients in glass and stir until blended and chilled. Garnish with a lemon twist.