Tea Cocktail - Tannins and Stuff

Asked April 5, 2016, 6:04 AM EDT

I would like to make an Earl Grey infused gin cocktail. One way would be to brew tea, let it cool down and add it to the cocktail. This is not very desireable, because it leaves less room for other ingredients in the glas and is not carbonated. So I have to leave out a significant quantity of tonic water and therefore the cocktail is less good (less tasty, less carbonated).

So my solution was to infuse the gin with the tea directly. It seems that because of the alcohol, the effect regarding the taste is roughly the same whether I leave the tea two minutes in room temperature gin or in boiling water.

Now my problem: The result is rather bitter. As described above, tannins (or other bitter stuff) and pigments (or whatever) seems to be more soluble in alcohol than in water. So the temperature or the duration has to be lowered. However I can find no information about how to minimize (variables: duration, temperature, amount of tea, second infusion with tea leaves already used for brewing) the extraction of tannins relative to the other flavors.

Another option would be to brew tea with water and then boil it down to some kind of syrup, so I can add much tea flavor by only adding a tiny amount of liquid to the cocktail. But I assume boiling the tea for a long time after brewing would also massively alter the flavor, e.g. aetheric oils (like from bergamot in the Earl Grey) would mostly evaporate.

Can anyone give me some rough advice what would probably be a good direction, because I would really like to perfect this cocktail, but I would not like to become and alcoholic by testing all possible combinations.

Outside United States

2 Responses

J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002, 50, 565−570
The article above provides information about typical phenolic compounds found in commercial tea including black tea which is a major ingredient in the tea you have mentioned. Different infusion methods (solvent, temperature, water quality, just to name a few) will affect what comes out of the tea. J. Agric. Food Chem.53, 5377−5384, 2005. In addition, a person genetic makes up, age, physiological stage will also affect bitterness perception. If you search Google Scholar, you may find many research articles discussing the effects of extraction/infusion methods and concentrations of different portion. Taste of tea/coffee is concentration dependent. Then when you mix all those together, you may have concentration effects. Unfortunately I cannot give you the specific solution you are looking for, but hope this may help you understand your problem better. Having said that, have you tried increasing the amount of tea for the same amount of brewing water to increase concentration of the tea extract without having to change solvent to alcohol?

Thank you for your answer. I will take a look at the research. Regarding your suggestion with normal brewing and just more tea bags than usual for the amount of water, I have tried that, but after thinking about it some more I think maybe I should try to take it further.
I think will fill up a small volume with loose tea and then fill it up with water. Also I'm not gonna use hot water, because I not only asked this question, but did some googling and read about cold steeping tea. No idea how using alcohol as solvent changes this, but from all the experience with cold steeping people wrote about on the web, it seems that at least with water you can take colder temperature and longer time to get the same overall flavor intensity with less bitterness (for green and black and white tea at least).