On Wednesday night I made a short hop to Sheffield to enjoy an evening of tea cocktails and terrarium making at the Birdhouse Tea Company, based in the pretty suburb of Nether Edge. The aroma of tea as I walked in was lovely – it smelt kind of mulled and spicy but not at all over-powering, just really delicate. The shop is airy and light with wonderful displays of tea accoutrements and a snug adorned with Nikki McWilliams biscuit cushions (cos what’s a cup of tea without a biscuit, right?). The company is run by a mother daughter team and Becky and her mum were on hand to serve up cocktails and answer all our questions on tea (there were lots of questions about tea). Becky shared the recipes with us, and I’ve linked to each of the teas used that you can also buy online in the Birdhouse Tea Company shop.
The first cocktail we had was a delectably pink rhubarb blini. This cocktail was quite sweet due to the sugar syrup used to make it, but was refreshing with the addition of prosecco. To make a rhubarb tea sugar syrup, all you need to do is brew a cup of Birdhouse Tea Company rhubarb tea and mix it one part tea with two parts sugar. You then heat this and reduce it down to about a third of its original volume and leave it to cool. Pop a bit in the bottom of a champagne flute, top up with Prosecco et voila, true Yorkshire awesomeness and perfect for a wedding.
Also great for the wedding season is the Earl Grey G&T. This was made by cold brewing the orangey flavoured Earl Grey with gin – just pop a couple of scoops of the loose leaf tea into some gin and leave it to steep. It gets better the longer you leave it, but a couple of hours will do it. You then strain it and use as you would your regular gin to make this refreshing summery drink. As the tea is cold brewed, it makes it taste a bit sweeter, which was perfect for me as I’m not usually a fan of Earl Grey.
Next out was a Jasmine Pearl cocktail. Jasmine Pearls are a mixture of jasmine, green tea and the purest and most indulgent form of tea – white tea. The botanicals are rolled together to make the most fragrant beads that make a really exotic tasting brew. Becky added the pearls to cold filtered water and, after steeping, mixed it with gin and elderflower cordial and served it in champagne flutes over ice.
Becky used a Chai tea to add a twist to the traditional dark rum and coke. The loose leaf Chai was added to the rum and the spices worked together to create a really deep, fragrant flavour. It was certainly one of my favourites!
I also really enjoyed the Lapsang Old Fashioned. I’m very partial to a whiskey, and this twist on the Old Fashioned – a sugar cube with orange bitters in the bottom of a glass, a wedge of orange or orange rind and a good measure of smoky whiskey – was gorgeous. Lapsang tea is also quite smoky in flavour and it really added to the peaty flavours of the whiskey. Definitely one for me to try at home!
Of course, cocktails don’t need to be alcoholic, and there are plenty of refreshing drinks to be made using these versatile teas without a drop of liquor passing your lips. One such drink to try was the Strawberry Lace lemonade. Made by adding ice cubes of rebrewed Strawberry Lace tea (you can rebrew the leaves after having a cuppa to make ice cubes in any flavour – great for cocktail making!) to regular lemonade and serving in a jug with ice, this drink had a really deep pink colour and was very tasty and sweet. Again, this would be great for a wedding and I think would prove very popular indeed with younger guests as well as the designated drivers.
After all those cocktails, we got to learn all about succulents and made our own tea cup terrariums, which I’ll be posting about very soon.