LAS VEGAS (MainStreet) -- Here's to a tea party of another kind, the kind whose members are mixologists! Eastern medicine and Western culture have long accepted the health benefits of tea, and now mixologists are joining the party by infusing drinks with tea for a culinary trend with an ancient twist. TravelsinTaste has sought out the inside scoop on these tea-infused cocktails.

Mixologist Joseph Boroski at Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai's Ember Room in New York has brought some unique techniques and exciting, never-before-seen gadgets stateside with the goal of fusing Asian flavors with American sensibilities. His Yao/Dao/Heu cocktail is a Szechuan pepper- and oolong tea-infused (as well as orange-infused) sake soju. It is shaken in a custom-made long-spout Szechuan tea shaker with pureed date honey, plum syrup and freshly squeezed lemon to be served with a sake and honey-marinated date in a martini glass.
The Yao/Dao/Heu cocktail at Todd English and Ian Chalermkitthai's Ember Room in New York uses a Szechuan pepper- and oolong tea-infused sake and orange-infused soju.

It's not just Asian-influenced restaurants participating in this tea party. "The use of teas in cocktails, I have to admit, was rather popular in our summer menus," says mixologist and beverage director Matt Myers of the Las Vegas Bellagio. "I have always been fond of the astringent qualities of bergamot-laden Earl Grey or the mellow caffeine buzz of a good Japanese matcha." While Aria's beverage director, Michael Shetler, explains: "Tea has complex aroma and flavors that lends itself to a wide variety of mixable spirits such as vodka, rum, whiskeys and liqueurs."

Shetler's Tea Rose at Sage at Aria Resort & Casino, where Chef Shawn McClain helms the kitchen, is a special blend of tea-infused Death's Door vodka (created in-house), St. Germain liqueur, lemon, rosewater and pine nuts. "The floral and bergamot undertones of the tea work great with the elderflower aroma and flavor of the St. Germaine Liqueur," Shetler says of the intoxicating nature of the cocktail. "The flora notes are further accented by rose water, and the tea gives the drink body and balance with its earthy undertones, which match perfectly with the acidic addition of fresh lemon juice."

Myers created three refreshing tea sips served poolside. His English Tea Time is made with the increasingly popular Absolut Wild Tea Vodka. Myers blends it with chilled Earl Grey tea and a splash of White Peach juice. "The English Tea Time is one of the pool cocktails made with tea that has become one of the most popular on the menu. I have always been suspicious of tea-infused bottled spirits until Absolut Wild Tea came across my desk," Myers says. "This vodka has a nice combination of black tea and elderflower that is not too over powering and works well for this cocktail."

Myers also makes a Buenos Aires Iced Tea -- Plymouth Gin with two types of tea: matcha green tea and Myer's favorite, yerba mate. In case you're low on energy, he has the Toro Natural Energy Drink, a nonalcoholic cocktail combining chilled yerba mate, Japanese matcha green tea syrup and yuzu citrus for a natural energy boost. "The idea was to create an organic-ingredient-driven cocktail that appeals to the average vodka and energy drink consumer," he says of the drinks. "These cocktails fit that niche to allow the Las Vegas poolgoers to enjoy the hours of heat and not lose steam for those important nighttime outings."

Modern Thai restaurant Lemongrass at Aria combines Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, chai tea, coconut milk and rock candy into a Spiked Chai that pairs perfectly with its spicy cuisine. "The chai tea cocktail at Lemongrass is a twist on a classic non-alcoholic Thai Chai. Rich black tea is infused with spices such as cardamom, clove and ginger. Lemongrass provides a delicate floral note to balance the creamy sweetness of coconut milk. Spiced rum is a perfect addition to provide additional subtle spice and depth," Shetler says.

When one thinks of spicing it up, one can't help but think of Emeril Lagasse and his trademark "Bam!" At his restaurant, Table 10 in the Palazzo, mixologist Max Solano produces a kicked-up tea aptly named such and made of Evan Williams Bourbon infused with two varieties of tea, orange curacao, blood orange puree, fresh lemon and topped off with Blue Moon wheat beer.

Cheers to a different type of tea party!

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