Few drinks on this planet can match the sheer depth of complex flavors that whisky provides – but tea comes pretty close. The two drinks have been bedfellows in the past, with USA Today highlighting in particular the medicinal benefits of a hot toddy, made from tea, lemon, sugar and whisky. Either having whisky in the tea itself, or having tea chased with whisky, is a great way to experience a range of flavors and impart some serious relaxation. The key is knowing exactly what each type of tea tastes like, and how it functions – just as you would with different whiskies.
Going to the source
If you want to find the best quality tea-whisky mixes, you need to head to China. The combination has long been a favorite over there, according to the Wall Street Journal, where blended whiskies and green tea are commonly combined into a drink that retains all of the depth of either drink while also providing refreshment. One key factor here is also the diversity of teas available. There are hundreds of different types of tea available, and especially so in Asia, where it’s more likely you’ll enjoy a subtly-flavored green brew rather than the English breakfast tea that has become synonymous with the drink in the English-speaking world.
Aged in the barrel
Of course, there’s a lot of history in whisky brewing with tea. Countless varieties have, over the years, used former tea barrels to mature the whisky. This imparts new flavors, and the earthiness of many tea blends is one to be valued. Some of the best Scotch whisky brands are prized for their peatiness and dryness; at least by whisky enthusiasts. Tea adds another dimension to this, amplifying and further honing the ability of that whisky to impart it’s signature flavor, and providing even greater depth of experience.
Returning the favor
Just as former tea barrels have been used to age whisky, so now has the favor been returned. In 2017, Scotch Highland brewery Tomatin revealed their new range of tea leaves that had been matured exclusively in former barrels. This will take the flavor combination back around the other way – and impart some of that whisky heritage into the tea leaves to create a much different brew for the drinker. This is, again, a good thing. Proper tea drinkers enjoy having a great depth of flavor, and identifying new and unusual sources to their brews – something which will be provided in some depth by whisky. You might even, through this, be able to pick up on the older teas used to help flavor the whisky during its own maturation – a truly positive feedback loop.
Tea and whisky – a perfect combination. While you might associate one with relaxation and the other with raucous times, there’s plenty of whisky drinkers out there who enjoy the mellow and slow nature of whisky drinking. In that sense, the two match solidly, and will continue to complement one another.