You don't even need to be a barista to make these fancy tea recipes.
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Fancy tea drinks
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

A cup of piping hot Earl Grey does wonders for the soul on a dreary morning or stressful WFH afternoon, but sometimes, you need a tea drink that's a bit fancier to get through the day. Luckily, tea leaves are versatile and come in a range of flavors, which makes for naturally delicious drinks, says Alexis Siemons, a tea expert in New Jersey.

Here, Siemons and Kioh Park, a tea sommelier and the founder of Kioh, which offers tea tastings in Los Angeles, share their creative tea recipes that are so tasty, you'll want to swap out your usual latte or hot chocolate for their earthy notes.

Mint-Rosemary Matcha Latte

The key to this tea recipe: unsweetened latte-grade matcha (most culinary grades are too bitter). Mint tea adds a refreshing note, with just a touch of rosemary for complexity. (If you want to channel your inner-barista, follow these tips for making a frothy matcha latte at home.)

  1. Make a mint-rosemary simple syrup: Bring 3/4 cup water to a boil, and steep 1/4 cup loose mint tea for 6 minutes. Strain, and pour into a pot over high heat. Stir in 1/2 cup honey. Add 2 rosemary sprigs, chopped; bring to a boil. Let cool 10 minutes, then strain.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup water to 170 degrees. Heat 3/4 cup milk of your choice until simmering.
  3. Pour the warm water, steamed milk, 1 heaping teaspoon unsweetened latte-grade matcha powder, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, a small pinch of salt, and 4 1/2 teaspoons mint-rosemary simple syrup into a blender, and blend for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and frothy.
  4. Pour into 2 mugs, and garnish each with a rosemary sprig. Sweeten to taste with additional syrup.

Hojicha Tea–Cashew Hot Cocoa

Hojicha, a roasted Japanese green tea, gives this hot-cocoa-infused tea recipe a nutty, earthy flavor.

  1. Heat 1 1/4 cups water to 180°F. Steep 3 tablespoons loose hojicha green tea in the water for 4 minutes.
  2. While the tea steeps, add 4 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process), 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw unsalted cashews, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, a pinch of sea salt, and 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup to a blender.
  3. Strain the leaves from the brewed tea, and carefully pour it into the blender. Blend on high for 2 to 3 minutes until smooth.
  4. Pour into 2 mugs, and garnish with dried rose petals if desired.

Tea-Smoked Spiced Cider

Lapsang souchong, a black tea that is dried over smoked pine needles, evokes a fall campfire in this tea recipe. (Related: Spicy Fall Teas That Are Way Better Than a PSL)

  1. Add 2 cups cider; 2 whole cloves; 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped; and 1 cinnamon stick to a small pot, and heat on high until the cider begins to boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover, and let the spices infuse the cider for 14 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover, and raise the heat to high. Once the cider reaches a boil again, stir in 4 1/2 teaspoons loose Lapsang souchong black tea, turn off the heat, cover, and let the mixture steep for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the cider through a sieve to strain. Pour into 2 mugs, and garnish with a slice of fresh ginger or a cinnamon stick. Optional: Stir in bourbon for a warming cocktail.
Craft tea recipes
Credit: ANTONIS ACHILLEOS

Korean Mule

This tea recipe is the perfect blend of sweet meets spicy, thanks to the dried jujubes (aka Chinese dates), honey, and ginger root.

  1. Add 15 dried jujubes (from a 6 oz. bag), 2 tablespoons dried ginger root, 3 tablespoons dried licorice root, 1/4 cup dried lotus root, and 2 tablespoons dried goji berries to a medium saucepan.
  2. Pour in 5 cups water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until flavorful, about 45 min.
  3. Stir in 1 tablespoon honey until it dissolves. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a teapot or a heat-proof bowl, and strain the tea through the sieve; discard solids.
  4. Pour into 6 cups, and garnish each with 1 teaspoon pine nuts.

Holiday Melody Hibiscus

Skip the spiked eggnog this holiday season and whip up this craft tea recipe instead, which features cranberry-esque hibiscus flowers, spicy ginger, and citrusy cardamom pods. (Related: This Cozy Copper Rush Cocktail Will Warm You Up From the Inside Out)

  1. Bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil, and add 1/4 cup hibiscus flowers, 2 large strips orange peel, 1 piece ginger (2 in.), thinly sliced, 3 whole cloves, 4 crushed cardamom pods, and 1/4 cup rose petals. Let steep for 10 min.
  2. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a teapot or a heat-proof bowl, and strain the tea through the sieve; discard solids.
  3. Stir in 1 bottle non-alcoholic sparkling cider (750 mL), and keep stirring to combine. Pour into 8 to 10 cups, then garnish each with a cinnamon stick and some cranberries.

Appleberry Black Tea Sangria

Despite the name, this craft tea recipe is totally booze-free — which means you can have cup after cup without feeling tipsy.

  1. Boil 3 cups water, and add 3 English breakfast teabags. Let steep 5 min. Remove teabags, and discard.
  2. Add 1 small red apple, cored and thinly sliced; 1 lemon, thinly sliced; 6 medium strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced; and 2 tabelspoons honey, stirring until honey dissolves.
  3. Let steep another 5 minutes, pour into 6 cups, and serve.

Shape Magazine, December 2020 and November 2021 issues