I’ve been a tea lover for years, and in the last couple of years I’ve been obsessed with milk tea such as Hong Kong milk tea and Thai iced tea. So when I received an invite for a special event involving milk and tea, I was so there.
The event last Wednesday was sponsored by the California Milk Processor Board – the people behind the popular Got Milk? campaign – and took place at the T-We Tea Store in San Francisco’s Crocker Galleria. In an effort to expand people’s interest in milk, the processor board partnered with T-We’s owner and tea sommelier Christopher Coccagna to create special tea drinks with milk as a main ingredient.
Coccagna demonstrated some of the special drinks he developed, including tea lattes, cocktails and what’s known as cambrics. I’d never heard of cambrics before, but it’s milk steeped with tea. Cambrics definitely are like drinking hot milk before bed, but of course I was more partial to the milk tea cocktails Coccagna made like a tea version of a white Russian and Horchata chai drink made with Rum Chata.
The event also gave me a chance to check out Coccagna’s tea store, which opened in February. I’d taken a tea class taught by Coccagna a few years a go, and he spoke about his dream to open a tea store that focused on blended teas that were natural with no additives.
His quaint shop is no grandmother’s tea shop, with modern graphics and stylish tea accessories. Coccagna’s not afraid to show off his gay pride in the names of his tea blends, such as Lesbi Friends, Guurl Grey, Bicurious George, and Hay Girl Hay. The whimsy is an extension of his creative tea blends.
Like I mentioned, my favorite drink was Coccagna’s Horchata Chai with rum. It had a nice spice flavor that reminds you of the holiday and would be a nice alternative to egg nog. Try the recipe below.
Horchata Chai Martini
8 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup prepared Slow Simmered Chai, cooled
Rum – horchata cream liqueur
Ground cinnamon, garnish
Star anise pod, garnish (optional)
Place 4 cardamon pods and 1/2 tablespoon of ginger in shaker, muddle until cardamom seeds are separated from husks and ginger is juicy. Add 3 ounces rum-horchata liquor, 4 ounces of Slow Simmered Chai and 2 ounces of whole milk with 1 scoop of ice to shaker. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into martini glasses in two equal parts. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top and float star anise to garnish. Repeat process for two more martinis.
T-We Tea Store, 50 Post St., level 2 (in the Crocker Galleria), San Francisco. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. www.t-wetea.com
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