I love bourbon, but my wife thinks it tastes “like burning” (her words). She prefers a more herbal flavored spirit like gin or tequila. And she also loves black tea like Earl Grey. So what better home experiment to try than to make her own tea-infused gin?
Making flavored gin is very much the same process that gin manufacturers use to make their spirits. Pretty much all gin starts out as flavorless neutral spirits, with the botanical flavors added as a secondary process. This could involve steeping the added flavors in the gin before re-distillation, or using a hanging bag of elements in the still itself to allow the vapors to filter through and pick up some of the elements.
The cheapest way to make gin however is called “maceration” and simply involves allowing the components to steep without re-distillation. That’s what we’re doing here today.
- Gin (500ml suggested)
- ~1 cup loose black tea (Earl Grey suggested)
- 500ml+ measuring cup
- Enclosed container (Mason Jar is perfect for 500ml)
- Coffee filters
There are only two main consumable components here, which are gin and tea. For the gin, we’re going with a local American gin from Still Austin (since they’re just a distiller we like), and the black tea is from Harney & Sons (which just happens to be the site we usually buy our tea from).
Step 1: Pour 500ml of Gin Into a Measuring Cup
We’re using 500ml here as our starting point, but feel free to use the whole bottle. Just multiply the tea you’re using by 1.5 to get the right quantity.
Step 2: Add 3 Tablespoons of Loose Black Tea to the Gin
Could you do this in a tea bag? Sure, theoretically. Or a couple of tea bags. The problem with that approach is that you’re trying to maximize the interaction of the tea with the gin. With a hot tea, this is something that the brownian motion from the heated water molecules accomplishes, but without that heat (and you do not want to heat this, or else all of the alcohol will disappear) it will take more time. Leaving the tea loose to interact freely with the gin will improve the flavor interaction.
Step 3: Transfer Mixture to Secondary Container, Wait 3 Hours
Now that we’ve got the mixture together it’s time to let it sit for a while and steep.
You’re going to want to use a container with a lid on it to keep the alcohol content from disappearing through evaporation. We used this large glass bottle for our process, but we quickly discovered that it’s probably easier to use a common Mason jar. A Mason jar is almost exactly 500ml in size, can be completely enclosed, and is much easier to clean afterwards.
Leave the liquid here for 3 hours as it gets progressively darker and more delicious looking.
Step 4: Filter the Tea Out
We did this in two steps, but you can probably skip to the second part.
For us, we originally started with just the metal strainer to remove the larger chunks of tea. We then transferred the gin back into the larger bottle, cleaned the measuring cup, and strained it again with a coffee filter this time. It took a while for the liquid to transfer and filter down, but in the end it was much more clear and consistent looking.
Step 5: Bottle and enjoy!
That’s it! That’s all there is to it. Find a nice looking bottle (we used one of the more interesting old Willet bourbon bottles I had lying around), clean it out well, add your new gin, and enjoy! As we’re fans of Greg over at How To Drink, we can’t wait to use this in an Earl Grey MarTEAni like he did.