a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
I am a tea addict. I’d probably qualify as a tea hoarder too. I just can’t stop collecting teas! Whenever I see a tea I’ve never tried, one I’ve never heard of, or simply get sucked into a tea’s story, I can’t resist the urge to snatch it up and sip it.
Feeding right into my addiction, Story of My Tea recently sent me a sneak peak of their new monthly subscription tea box concept. The gist of the concept is this: Story of My Tea sends you a carefully curated selection of five teas every month, with thoughtfully presented education, stories, steeping instructions, and use ideas for each tea. For those new to tea, this is a great introduction to different teas from across the globe. For addicts like me, it’s the perfect excuse to keep trying new things.
One of the teas in the sample box I received was a silver bud (ya bao) white tea. Just the new buds (instead of the mature leaves) of the tea plant are carefully harvested during late winter from tea plants that have been growing for more than a thousand years in the Yunnan province of China. The delicate buds are sun dried and receive no further processing. The dried buds smell sweet and slightly woodsy. They look like fish scales, alien fingers, or unopened flower buds. Story of My Tea describes the aroma as cedar and pine, but I detected notes of hearty herbs like dill and fennel. My first whiff of the tea reminded me of opening a dill pickle jar. (I happen to adore pickles, so this was a good scent for me.)
Story of My Tea suggests several uses for this gentle brew, including pairing it with seafood or cucumber salad. They also suggest adding the tea to a light gin…hence my martini inspiration! I tried infusing the buds in gin and vodka. Even though I used a light gin, the gin flavor was still pretty overpowering for this subtle tea. I found that a smooth, more neutral-flavored vodka was a better carrier to get the unique notes of the tea to shine through in the infusion.
Adding mixers to this tea infused spirit can cover up the tea flavor, so I opted to enjoy it as a classic martini. With dash of vermouth and a rosemary garnish, it makes the perfect winter cocktail.
Happy cooking and sipping!
P.S. Many thanks to Story of My Tea for providing the tea samples that made this recipe inspiration possible. Check out the Kickstarter campaign Story of My Tea just launched to get their monthly subscription concept off the ground. The campaign will be live January 4 to February 3, 2017. You do need to register on Kickstarter (takes less than 3 minutes) to participate in the campaign and take advantage of the deals they have set up for those who donate.
Makes 2 cocktails
For silver bud vodka infusion:
1 Tbsp. silver bud white tea leaves (I used Silver Bud (Ya Bao) from Story of My Tea)
8 ounces vodka
4 ounces silver bud vodka infusion
1 1/2 ounces dry vermouth
1 handful ice cubes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary for garnish
For silver bud vodka: Combine tea leaves and vodka in a glass jar with a lid. Cover and let steep at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. The longer you let the infusion go, the stronger the tea flavor will be. Strain and discard tea leaves. Store infused vodka in a sealed jar at room temperature until ready to use.
For cocktails: Combine silver bud vodka infusion, vermouth, and ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Shake for at least 30 seconds. Strain into two chilled martini glasses. Garnish each cocktail with a sprig of rosemary.