Monday, December 3, 2012

Boozy Teas: Tea Cocktail Workshop at Herbal Infusions

The Holiday season is in full swing, folks getting ready for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve parties...pretty Christmas lights are up along Yonge Street, the big Christmas tree is up in the Eaton Centre, the malls are staying opened later for the shoppers. 

Even The Grid, Toronto's weekly magazine, had a special "Holiday Hooch" issue out this week.  Their guide to Holiday Cocktails, complete with a legend of snowmen in varying degrees of inebriation, is a survey of the city's top bars for those looking for some holiday cheer. 

So what's a tea lover to do if they want a tea cocktail?  What if they don't want to go all the way to The Comrade in Riverside for an Uncle Garth (a maple-citrus and Earl Grey tea-infused bourbon drink)?!  Sure, there's the Blueberry Tea that any bar should know how to make, but what if you fancy yourself as an amateur mixologist, love tea, and want to save some money?

Tea cocktails have been popping up everywhere lately, even though tea and alcohol has been around for a while.  Think, tea and whiskey...   

There's O5 Tea with their Cocktails, Tapas, and Tea events in Vancouver.  David's Tea brought out "The Cocktail Collection", a collection of five teas with recipe cards.  The LCBO featured some tea cocktails using Sloane Teas in their Food and Drink's Autumn issue.  I even heard a radio interview with Sabnam of The Tea Emporium on tea cocktails a few weeks ago!

You can google recipes on line, or... you can do what I did recently and go to Herbal Infusions Tea Co. for a Tea Cocktail workshop!  Only $30!  Such a deal for a fun and educational workshop!

Dan Johanis left the corporate finance world and opened the tiny modern tea shop at the north east corner of Spadina and Adelaide about three years ago.  Herbal Infusions carry many teas and tisanes.  Dan has collaborated with ChocoSol Traders in creating a Cacao Tea made with 100% organic cacao shell which comes in three different flavours.  (hmm, another thing for the chocoholic on my list...)

Some of the tea wares
Close to a dozen guests crowded into the little shop to watch mixologist, Michelle Tham and Dan work their magic.

  Michelle pours the welcome drink - Me Love Oolong Time

 Made with Orange Blossom Oolong tea syrup (made with fresh tea leaves ahead of time by Dan), Lemon Juice, and Tag No5 Vodka. 
Light oolong tea taste, well balanced and refreshing.

Interesting name,  though it sounds like something you'd hear on the streets of Da Nang......this was just a time to enjoy an adult oolong tea cocktail.  It was tasty!

The Mo'Teato was next, a volunteer helps measure and pours the Peppermint Dream syrup

 Peppermint Dream is a tisane made of peppermint and lavender blended in-house by Dan.
Add some lime juice, Bacardi Black rum and it's ready to drink.  I found myself wishing for some fresh mint leaves...but it was good.

Next we were transported to the Polynesian islands with Lomi Lomi Tea-ki Tiki

Lomi Lomi syrup, pineapple juice, Bacardi Superior Rum and Coconut milk ~ tasted like a piƱa colada. 

Finally, an experimental Lavender Gin Cocktail

Victoria Gin was stirred in ice to chill.  Apparently, you shouldn't be shaking your alcohol, if you want a good, smooth drink.  Shaking it in ice breaks up the surface area, since you're in essence whipping air into the liquid.

So... what does that say about James Bond who likes his martinis shaken, not stirred?  Hmm, maybe that's why the franchise needed to add Daniel Craig to give a dash of toughness back to Bond...

In case you were wondering what that vessel on the bar is... it is a Prohibition era Martini shaker disguised as a tea kettle.  

This was a strong, herbaceous (pink Tibetan Lavender), booze forward cocktail.  By now, I don't remember what else went in there, and my hand writing had become illegible.  Maybe I should just stick with plain tea...  hmm.. nah! 

This pretty drink's got no name.  Perhaps the Lavender FlamingoPretty in Pink?  Can you think of a cool name for it?  I'll pass it on to Dan!

Herbal Infusions will be conducting two more Tea Cocktail workshops:
Thursday, December 6th @ 6pm
Sunday, December 9th @ 2pm.

Space is limited.  RSVP at or call Dan at (416) 900-6942.


  1. Great to hear about another tea shop in Toronto. Thanks for the post Rita. I'll check them out. Sounds like it was a fun holiday event.

    1. Hi The Tea Stylist! Sorry for the late reply (tech problems). You're welcome! It was a fun indeed. Have you had a chance to check them out yet?

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Tea man! Come back again for more posts and let me know what you think :)

  3. I attended one of their tea-blending workshop and was a bit disappointed we were not able to try the tea. What's the point of blending tea if we can't taste it? Seems odd to me.

    1. Hi PHA Toronto! Sorry to hear. For sure you want to be able to try, how else will you know if the blends' good or not, and learn. I went to their hands-on one and got to bring home the three blends I made. Was this their hands-on workshop? or just a demo?

  4. I really enjoyed reading this blog post, keep on writing such interesting posts.