Liqueurs, sweetened infusions, have long been used as digestifs: quick little shots to aid digestion after an especially hearty meal, like Christmas dinner. To make a homemade liqueur, you simply infuse ingredients into a base liquor, then sweeten the resulting liquid. Some liqueurs, like a ratafia of quince, can take months to make. But you can make a really delicious, intriguing tea liqueur in just a few hours.
Think of this recipe as more of an equation: Keep the proportions and change up the ingredients. For this version, I used a chai tea with a rooibos base. The blend of spices, once infused into vodka and sweetened, makes a natural complement to seasonal desserts like a nutmeg-spiked cake. But I’ve also made very good tea liqueurs with genmai cha, Earl Grey and, one of my favorites, jasmine green tea. Vodka is a good neutral base, but feel free to try other liquors. As for the sweetener, honey and sugar syrup work equally well – they just bring different flavors to the final result. (Sugar elevates the intrinsic flavors of the tea, whereas honey brings its own character.) If you want to dabble before committing to the volume of this recipe, just scale it down accordingly. It’s perfect for bottling up and gifting to loved ones — whether they share it with guests or sneak swigs while cleaning up in the kitchen is up to them.
Homemade Tea Liqueur Recipe
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For a holiday that’s all about romance, Valentine’s Day sure stacks the deck against would-be lovers. On no day is there greater pressure to have a memorable night with someone special, yet what are the available weapons in your arsenal of love? Uninspired prix-fixe menus, wildly marked up bottles of bubbly and bouquets of flowers and truly some of the worst candy confectioners have ever inflicted upon our collective palates. For example, conversation hearts taste like sugar, chalk and, sometimes, cough syrup. (Yet do you think I can stop eating them? Of course not.) And heaven help you if you invest in one of those heart-shaped boxes of “chocolates.” There is no surer way to nip a budding relationship.
I’m not saying you won’t score some points with a prospective paramour by presenting gaudy offerings and doing some kind of courtship dance like a bird in the wild. I’m just saying that sometimes it’s best to just cut to the chase. When it comes to modern love, as the saying goes, candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
I confess there is one V-Day candy I enjoy. Imperial Hearts are just Red Hots made into little heart shapes, and yet they somehow taste different, better. Perhaps it’s because they are a metaphor for the day. Romance should be sweet, of course, but the heat of passion rescues it from being insipid. And made into a sweet-spicy liqueur, well, be still my beating heart.
A dribble of this lurid liqueur will turn even the cheapest sparkling wine into an absolute aphrodisiac.
Continue Reading Candy is Dandy, but Liquor is Quicker: Homemade Valentine’s Day Liqueur