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    How to up your tea game in cocktail drinks (Kym has a chat with Evelyn Chick - Award winning global hospitality talent)

    How to up your tea game in cocktail drinks (Kym has a chat with Evelyn Chick - Award winning global hospitality talent)

    The act of preparing and serving tea is one of the oldest forms of hospitality throughout the world. Spanning culture and age groups tea has played the role of social lubricant over thousands of years. So, what does it take to elevate tea into occasions where alcoholic drinks are also enjoyed? 

    Here at East Forged HQ, Tania and I, have always felt that the diverse aromas and tastes that can be drawn from tea leaves make it an incredible ingredient when it comes to mixology and drink creation. You can imagine our excitement at meeting an international hospitality professional that harbours the same love for tea that we do. We couldn't be more pleased when the next guest, a fellow flavour explorer, agreed to have a chat to us about how to incorporate tea into your alcohol-free cocktail drinks.

    This week we welcome award-winning bartender, Evelyn Chick. Based in Canada we connected with Evelyn following a masterclass she held on Zero Proof cocktails (also known as temperance cocktails or alcohol-free cocktails). She generously shares her knowledge and gives her 5 top tips on using tea to create epic alcohol-free tea drinks for the home bar.  

    The video recording to my interview with Evelyn can be viewed through YouTube (follow the link below)  

    Non Alcoholic Tea Drinks with Evelyn Chick - How to use tea in cocktail drinks

    How to use tea in cocktail drinks

    Top 5 Tips:

    1. Choose a tea you like

    2. Don't over steep the tea

    3. Refer to the supplier's instructions

    4. Increase the quantity of tea to make a concentrate

    5. Use tea as a lengthener

    The full transcript below:

    Kym Cooper (East Forged)

    So we're going to move on to our, to our last topic, which is the one I'm most, most excited about, particularly I think coming, both Tania and I, what we call flavour explorers, I guess, is the best terminology. We love that we used to call ourselves flavour nerds. But I think it's a little bit more, it's a bit more than that. It's, it's, it's bringing together, sort of our experiences with different ingredients and botanicals and meshing them together and, being quite innovative in that space. And we love to listen to other people talk about drink creation, Tania, who unfortunately isn't able to be here today, but she actually was the Australian winner of the world tea brewing competition a couple of years ago, and, she created this beautiful beverage with different tea liquors, yellow tea and a pu-erh, and with some beetroot, and she speaks about her drink much better than I do.

    Kym Cooper (East Forged)

    But I think what I really loved when I listened to your zero proof 101 tales of the cocktail was the way that you are able to break down the drinks that you were creating in that zero proof space. And it's probably the first time that I've heard it being broken down in a way that people can actually, that makes it approachable and makes it gives terms for the components of the drink that you're trying to bring together. So that's what I loved. So I can only imagine the programs that you did to come in through your EC projects. Fantastic. And it's something that I think we we'll definitely link to as well and share with our community given this whole new digital spaces, it's easy for people to access this great information and be part of things like that. So I w we will do that. So we have a common interest in, in this exploration of flavours. So I'd really, firstly, I'd love to know, like, what's your connection with tea because you, you do seem to like utilizing that ingredient and we'd love to hear a little bit more about that.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    Yeah. I love, I mean, I grew up in Hong Kong, so that's a crazy, you know, that's a, that's a culture that really takes into their love of tea very seriously. So as a child I've known how to sort of brew different styles of tea. How many times you have to steep it when you have to pour it out, the temperature water that you have to put in for each particular blend and whatnot. So I think, you know, I think my mum for that she loves tea. So, and I think that's a very nostalgic thing for me to constantly connect to. And obviously with growing up in Hong Kong, like the Asian flavours exposed to is very different than a lot of the ones in North America now.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    So, but I also find the tea category fascinating because, you know, for those who are just used to having, the black tea in the morning, and then there, you know, English breakfast or whatever, what not, they put milk and sugar in that sort of, how people think of tea, but there's so many different types. There's, you know, your herbals, you know, you have your red, your way, your yellow, your greens, and even within greens in any particular country, it's completely different and how they toast it, how they dry it, how they do different things. It's, it's fascinating to me. So, m love working with that just because of the diversity and the flavour profile that you can find in teas. And, t's not, it doesn't just have to be fruit or dark or Ruby or citrus forward. It could be like very savoury as well. So I think it kind of covers all the flavour profiles that you can taste.

    Kym Cooper (East Forged)

    Yeah. I love hearing that. When in your work previous work of, in the bar was it an ingredient that you would utilise and, and is it an easy ingredient to utilise? Because I know some of the teas, we can get very complicated with it from a, from a Chinese brewing style perspective. But, but is it, is it a liked ingredient by bartenders, I guess is probably the question.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    Yeah. I think in the cocktail, like craft cocktail industry teas are utilised quite often, but I think a lot of the interests comes from infusing an alcoholic beverage with teas to begin with or infusing it in a simple syrup. And as I was mentioning before, a lot of people are sort of steering away from having things are high in sugar or trying to get something that is a little bit more natural in their kind of drink cycle or drink trends is up and coming. So I would say that the interest in the bartending community definitely stems from infusions and particularly with alcohol. So when I was creating different tea serves I definitely had to look into lots of different factors because if you're doing it without alcohol in a non alcoholic serve the stability of the particular tea is so different.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    So say if you were to infuse something in alcohol, the flavour would probably stay quite well. And depending on what you're seeping in, you don't really get the crazy amount of tannins that you would unless if you like how you would over steep a tea, like when you're doing water or a simple syrup. So I think in exploring that category, a lot of bartenders do tend to stick to tea infusions with alcohol or simple syrup's, which I think is fantastic because that's a really great way to get some flavours into a cocktail that is a little bit more complex than just the base ingredient. So if you were to say, do a a you know, pomegranate Rooibos, this tea versus just a pomegranate syrup, again, that'll be a little bit more complex as a base ingredients who that would contribute to a full of flavour cocktail without having to do much with the others. Absolutely. So in terms of, you know, non alcoholic tea making it's definitely a much, much more complex thing to deal with.

    Kym Cooper (East Forged)

    Yeah. Yeah. I do like how you put that though, because I think people yeah, there, there is a level of like, understanding that needs to come, I think when you are working with tea in a non-alcoholic capacity because of those reasons that you mentioned. So yeah, that, that's, that's really, really interesting. How do you think we can hero tea more within our non-alcoholic drinks? And I'd really like to bring this back to people working with the ingredient and the home, because I know that you're about accessibility for approaching these drinks as well. So we'd love to, I'd love to hear your thoughts there.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    I think it's more just education. So I'm very lucky that I've gotten quite a bit of experience working with people are very good with Tea like, I wouldn't say particularly that I'm a tea expert. I'm just, I really love the flavour profile, but there are a lot of local tea purveyors that I would definitely recommend if you are interested in, non-alcoholic serves to just chat with, because as you know, people who enjoy tea love talking about it, no planning with them about it, because they are the ones who understand sort of what ingredients that grow in that go in it that makes that particular blend so special. So in terms of people at home usually when I do cocktail classes, I try to relate whatever I'm making to something that they're very used to. So say for example, if I were to make a a non-alcoholic tea lemonade then I would kind of explain it in a way where, okay, this is kind of how you steep your regular English breakfast, but in this particular serve, this is how much you have, how much more you have to put in and how much shorter of a time you have to do.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    So it kind of cuts off before the tannins come out and tannins means bitterness. So have you ever tasted something where you're like, Oh, this is kind of bitter and I don't know why that's so kind of explaining it and breaking it down in a way where they can relate to. And I think that's why I find success in a lot of virtual home classes, because I'm able to sort of break it down and talk about it in a language that they understand. And I feel like all this kind of comes back to inclusivity and hence, you know, the full circle ness of this particular category is because at one point or another in our lives, we've definitely have had non-alcoholic drinks, but is it as like, well thought out and as complex as we try to make it now? Probably not.

    Kym Cooper (East Forged)

    Yeah, absolutely. It's evolving in that way. Isn't it? Right.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    Yeah. So I think it's this about relate-ability and being able to explain it in a way where the language is approachable and global, so

    Kym Cooper (East Forged)

    Fantastic. No, I love that. And I guess our final question for you today and what what we wanted to really bring your out is, is your expertise, I guess, but we'd love to know some of your top tips for creating a well-built balanced tea zero proof drink in the home,

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    Right? So my, my tip and only tip ever that I tell everybody is pick something you like, because if the craziest thing it's such a simple thing, but a lot of flavours that people particularly experience that they love, they're not sure why. And I think they just gravitate towards the same things because of familiarity. And I think that's a wonderful thing. So I would always say, you know, start with something you like. So if you don't particularly like the flavour of black tea and you prefer green or something, I would definitely pick that first. And another thing about teas is you have to understand the ingredient. So again, if you overstep something it's going to be a little bit more bitter, or if you don't add enough of the leaves in the particular plans to say, like for herbal, you add a little bit more grams of that particular blends because it takes a little bit more time and it takes a little bit more of the ingredient to actually get the flavours to pop. So understanding the ingredients very important. And look at Tea like how you would look at elongating your drink. So I wouldn't say look at it. It is something that you can use as a base just as it is. So say if you alter the properties of it and and my tales of the cocktail seminar, that I'm really glad you're putting the link up on, because I don't even know that it's up. So it's pretty, yeah.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    Talk about tea concentrates. So what I do with kind of utilizing those really beautiful tea flavours as a base ingredient for a non-alcoholic drink, I would steep the tea, how the tea, the purveyor or the tea maker would recommend, and I would reduce it to strengthen the flavour. So that way you're not actually altering what the recommended method to just to brew the tea is and preserve all of those beautiful flavours that they're intended to be in. So now, if you alter the texture and the strength of the tea, then you can start using it as a base for your non-alcoholic drink. So for example, if you were to make, I always go back to lemonade, because it's just the easiest thing, everyone knows what it is. I love it. I love it. We're coming in to summer here.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    So [inaudible], I've actually been really, really popular on my Instagram feed. Yeah. So on my Instagram feed at Evelyn Chick, I've put up some beautiful sort of fall hot drink cocktails, and it kind of includes a bunch of tea recipes. So definitely go check it out. And that in terms of, you know, going into summer and you're looking to do a non-alcoholic serve that's a little bit more interesting a lemonade base is great. And you don't necessarily have to use white sugar or simple syrup as a sugar additive. So if you just alter that sugar additive a little bit say using natural honey, and I'm sure there's lots of Australia's really good honey. Yeah. Or in Canada, we do maple syrup or, or something that's a little bit more natural that you can pick up with a little bit of citrus. And again, it doesn't need to be lemon.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    It could be, you know, yuzu or kumquats or something that's a little bit more acidic and floral. You can use the tea as a lengthener or how you would say soda or, you know pop or water that kind of lengthens the drink. And that adds another dimension. So if you were to say, build a summer forward lemonade for your backyard party and you mix together some honey and some lemon, and you kind of think about, I always think about drinks, like how I would creating a dish. So what goes well with honey? I know cantaloupes do and you know, pretty much like mint or strawberries or what not like all that kind of goes with it. I would probably go with a tea that's a little bit lighter and brighter, like a white tea or a fruit tea or something like that.

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    And if you were in Canada and you are going into about two degrees Celsius, I would probably keep some flame that's a little bit more warming, like a chai paired with, maybe an orange marmalade and like throw some Sage in it, you know? So you're kind of looking at it like how you would create a dish and looking at flavours that may or may not be very similar to each other, but can compliment each other in terms of flavour. So I think a lot of it is just again, like breaking down the ingredients and looking at, the associated ingredients. And I think, you know, the third tip is just to make sure your mind is open and you're being creative and having fun.

    Kym Cooper (East Forged)

    Fantastic. I love it. I love it. There's some really great tips there and I, I can't say enough, go and have a look at Evelyn's Instagram feed. There is, there is an amazing drink. I think you put up there the other day called a Matchata. Yeah, it is so much fun. And I think yeah, just, just shows I guess the way that you approach your drink making and, and bringing that element of interest into it. So yeah, it's great. Evelyn, thank you so much for your time today. I think that that really covers everything that we really wanted to talk to you about, and that's been some really great tips and about creating zero proof drinks or non alcoholic drinks. And I think it's certainly a very exciting category. And I guess in terms of, if people wanted to sort of connect with you, how is that, how is the best way

    Evelyn Chick (EC Projects)

    The best way to do that is probably just hop on my Instagram at Evelyn chick or go on my website, Evelyn chick projects.com. They're pretty easy to remember. And I usually look at both of those quite often, cause I've actually been getting a lot of interest in non-alcoholic serves lately, which is why, you know, again, it just attest to the fact that this category is in fact not a trend and here to stay. And yeah, I'm just excited to continue developing these recipes. And a lot of my friends actually have a, do not imbibe, perhaps stopped in by being in the last few years. So, you know, for someone who does drink alcohol, like I love kind of exploring these new categories because I know that there's always going to be an audience.

    Links to Evelyn's website and Zero 101 masterclass are located in description on East Forged Youtube video