Friday, February 15, 2013

Ti(n)sanity!: Me-tea-orite

Disclaimer: this is a non-sponsored post. Also, I'm not looking to do sponsored posts. I just really like this tea, is all, and have a policy of happily and independently buying all my ingredients.

Welcome back to my Ti(n)sanity! series, exploring the many ways one can apply flavor to a cocktail. The Maguffin for the series is Celestial Seasonings' Tension Tamer herbal tea (tisane).

Last time, we began the series with a piping hot tea toddy. Today, we go to the (literal) polar opposite: an ice sphere of strong-brewed tisane. How would you use an ice sphere in a cocktail? Simple: the ur-Cocktail (spirit, sugar, water and bitters), an Old Fashioned. Or, perhaps in this case, an Auld Fashioned.

2 oz single malt scotch
1 tsp mild honey
6-7 drops Bittercube Bolivar bitters
1 Tension Tamer ice sphere
swatch Meyer lemon zest

In a rocks serving glass, mix the honey with a small splash of water (or use 2 tsp 1:1 honey syrup instead) and the bitters. Add the scotch and stir. Add the ice sphere and give it at least a 10 second stir. Garnish with a small swatch Meyer lemon zest, twisted to release the oils over the drink and then added. Best lightly sipped and swirled over time to balance the tea from the ice.

More of a comet, really...

Tension Tamer ice sphere: brew one tea bag in 4 oz boiling water. Let steep until cool. Fill an ice sphere mold with the cooled tea and pop in the freezer until frozen and ready to use.

I originally tested this with Irish whiskey, but as I planned on using that spirit in another drink I looked for alternatives to broaden the scope ('cause Irish whiskey is just so darn agreeable a match with the Tension Tamer tea - maybe almost too much in this case because it faded to the background). Cognac wasn't the most friendly with the honey or herbs, but on realizing that I went for the obvious natural match: single malt scotch (heavier blendeds would work against the tea here). And, before you purists start protectively huffing the vapors from your dram-and-a-drops, this project has 8 planned entries: I'm mini-bottling. Which, in PA means The Glenlivet 12 or The Macallan 12. Fine drams, both, but here, in making a slight modification from originally-used Bushmills, I went with the cereal-noted Glenlivet with that wonderful smoke that hits right around the edge of your tongue. Sherry-fruited Macallan will have to wait for some other recipe.

The honey is a natural fit for the tea (you'll be seeing more of it later on) in addition to the scotch. The Bolivar bitters provide a light-medium aromatic quality to work with the similar tones in the cocktail and enhance around the edges only. And the Meyer lemon zest was a last-minute add, just to elevate the cocktail with some brightness and have a more tangible garnish in the Old Fashioned tradition. Overall, the flavors meld well into one another, but with a wisp of smoke here or a rush of herbs or burst of zest there. A wonderful soothing long-sipper that remains balanced throughout.*

*The hidden ingredient in special ice cocktails: time.

On the name? Catch up on your news and google videos out of Chelyabinsk, Russia from today. Sometimes you're struggling for a name right up until the end, and then it just hits you.

So we've gone from piping hot to ice cold tea. The next recipe promises to be positively tepid! Stay tuned, dear readers, the coming recipes promise greater development and complexity as we get these basic building block recipes out of the way.

Previous Ti(n)sanity recipes:

Introduction and eThéreal Toddy (grappa)