Gin And Tea
Not too long ago, sometime before this third/fourth lockdown fiasco, I attended a fun little collaboration between Tanqueray gin, Hyde at 53M and DaBao. The event aimed to showcase Tanqueray No Ten's (T10) versatility when infused with Western teas, which was then paired with Chinese/Taiwanese food.
I had a blast and some time to reflect on how the robustness of tea could marry so well with the botanicals of gin. Up until now, my only encounter with tea-infused gin was a gift bottle I received from my godmother years ago called Earl Grey Forest Gin. As the name reveals, it used earl grey to create an aromatic and flavourful gin that was best enjoyed with a lightly sweetened tonic water and a slice of lemon.
At the event, DaBao whipped up an interesting food menu to pair with Hyde at 53M's liquid offerings. Among the lineup was:
Pork and shrimp dumplings paired with a British breakfast soda (British breakfast tea-infused Tanqueray 10 and soda)
Pork belly and mustard greens bao with an earl grey G&T float (Earl grey-infused T10, Fentimans Indian tonic, genmaicha ice cream)
Fried torch ginger ice cream with pineapple jam paired with a rooibos cinnamon-infused T10 shot
The pork and shrimp dumplings were adequately tasty but ultimately run-of-the-mill, proving detrimental flavour-wise to the gentler British breakfast tea-infused Tanqueray 10 and soda due to that oily sauce. However, that oiliness did an excellent job of provoking thirst, making me reach for my glass quicker than usual.
The drink itself was incredibly refreshing, the usual bitterness of breakfast tea downplayed by the effervescent soda water, resulting in a thirst-quenching sundowner. Garnished with a dehydrated slice of lemon, this is a far bolder offering than the usual gin and tonic. There's just something fascinating about using tea to introduce a herbal bitterness to the botanical bite of gin, especially when paired with Tanqueray Ten's juniper and citrus-dominant flavours.
The second pairing proved to be better. While diners were given a choice of filling the likes of pork, spicy chicken or soft shell crab, I went with the classic pork belly and mustard greens. The bao itself was reasonably soft but was utterly overshadowed by the extremely generous filling. The pork belly itself was adequately tender, and the bitter crunch of the mustard greens providing a lovely spiciness to the dish. Fried pork lard is added for extra oomph, but I could have done without it.
The second drink was a perfect representation of an adult's take on the classic soda float – earl grey-infused T10, Fentimans Indian tonic water and homemade genmaicha ice cream. This was absolutely delicious; the refreshing floral tea imbued with that sultry juniper-citrus bite proved to be a remarkable base to add the robust flavours of roasted tea ice cream. As the ice cream melted, the flavours that came from this merging of these two mediums eventually resembled a much lighter-in-texture spiked shake.
If you have the patience to make your own earl grey-infused gin, I implore you to find a tub of quality genmaica ice cream, invite a few friends and prepare for a boozy afternoon delight.
Dessert was another hit, fried torch ginger ice cream served with a dollop of pineapple jam. The richness of the ice cream, combined with the tart and sweet jam makes it a fantastic dessert. No joke. The fluffy, crispy outer layer added texture to the centre's smooth, floral flavoured ice cream. The pineapple jam, on the other hand, tastes similar to that of pineapple tarts. At the moment of the event, this dish was part of the Tanqueray Ten, Hyde at 53M and DaBao collaboration, so I'm uncertain if this dish remains on DaBao's menu. But if you ever pay it a visit, make sure to order it.
To wash it all down, there was a shoot of rooibos and cinnamon-infused gin, a warm and herbal shot that imitates the sensation of sitting cosily by a fireside and sipping on mulled wine. Pair this with the aromatic fried ice cream, and they had another winner.
As you've undoubtedly had plenty of time due to the pandemic, my suggestion is to replicate Andrew Tan of Hyde at 53M's fantastic tea-infused gins at home for a novel way to enjoy gin beyond its typical pairing with tonic water. The five teas he used were chamomile, earl grey lavender, English breakfast, Darjeeling and rooibos cinnamon. But feel free to experiment with your own favourite teas.
To infuse your gin with tea, you'll want to:
Pour your gin in a jar with a lid and add the tea leaves.
Allow the infusion to take place for at least two hours.
Once infused, strain the gin back in the jar.
Alternatively, get some delivered to you by Hyde at 53M.