Smoked Tea Infused Pegu

OK,

So this post has been marinating in my drafts folder for a while, and current events have left me with the time needed to give it its due.

It is always a special thing to find a new cocktail blog post about Pegus, and more special when it is to be found in one of my regular reads. A few weeks ago, I ran across an article at Explore the Pour in the series on Smoked Cocktails. Robert uses Lapsang Souchong tea-infused Gin to make a Pegu. Here’s his recipe:

Smoked Pegu Club

  • 2 oz Lapsang Souchong-Infused Plymouth Gin
  • 3/4 oz Orange Curacao
  • 3/4 oz Lime Juice
  • Dash Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

To me, there are two things going on here. Robert’s main point is smoke-essence in cocktails, but his post has also led me to go exploring around about the use of tea in general. More on that later. Smoke is a very hit or miss thing with me. In some cases, I love it, in others, it turns me off. Some smoked meats are awesome, others are just a perfectly good piece of flesh ruined. The same goes for smoky odors or environments. I’m not a smoker, so I wonder if being one changes, or more likely blunts, one’s appreciation for the subtleties of smoke. Anyone think they know?
I had never heard of Lapsang Souchong before. While I’m a tea drinker, rather than coffee, my tastes go to the mainstream like Earl Grey or English Breakfast. A little reading told me that Lapsang Souchong is a strong black tea that gets its smoky flavor tones from real smoke. Interesting stuff, but I note that Robert’s account of its origin conflicts with that on Wikipedia. As usual I side with virtually anyone over Wikipedia! I naively mentioned earlier that I’d get on this Smoky Pegu thing as soon as I could roll on down to Whole Foods. That turned out to be optimistic. No such luck there, or anywhere else around town. I had to resort to the Intertubes to find some and order it.
Brokers, Lapsang Souchong-InfusedWhen the tea finally came, I noticed Robert had left out a crucial step: Infusuion instructions! Undaunted, I dove in. I had no Plymouth Gin on hand, and my Bombay Sapphire reserves were at a tragically low ebb. I decided on using the Brokers Gin I had remaining from my earlier experiments. I stuffed a bunch of the tea in a bottle from the Container Store, and poured the Gin over the top. I let it steep for about four hours, until I got a rich, dark, Laphroaig-level amber hue. Well, it certainly is pretty! I used the filter funnel from a red wine decanter to filter out the used tea. I was tempted to brew a cup with it, but got distracted. Another idea for when I try some more tea infusions.
I decided to use my basic Pegu recipe, preferring to eschew Robert’s non-PeguBlogApproved substitution of Orange Curaçao for Cointreau. Robert, please expect a visit from the Inquisition shortly about your apostacy. (You can expect it since it is the Pegu Inquisition, rather than the Spanish Inquisition. No one expects… Oh, the hell with it.) I also elected to make two half batches, and use the Fee Boys’ orange concoction in one, and Angustora in the other. It resulted in a subtle difference in color, but both were attractive.

AngustoraBittersSmokyPegu
Smoked Tea Infused Pegu
with Angustora Bitters.

I tried the one with my favorite bitters first. My first thought was that I probably over steeped the tea. But I tried another sip and it was OK, but not to my taste.

OrangeBittersSmoklyPegu
Smoked Tea Infused Pegu
with Orange Bitters.

The Orange Bitters version was lighter in color, and I soon discovered that it was lighter in flavor as well. They are obviously the better choice with the smoke-infused Gin. The Angustora seems to clash with the tea and smoke flavors, drowning out the orange and the Gin, both. The Orange Bitters doesn’t compete so directly with the new elements, and the better balance allows you to enjoy all the flavors.
I didn’t finish the first glass. The second, I enjoyed to the last drop.
A neat experiment, and one I can endorse trying yourself. The only real negative I have about the drink is that it left me with a bit of dry mouth, but again, that was likely due to too much tea infusing time.

SMOKED TEA INFUSED PEGU

  • 3 parts Lapsang Souchong Infused Broker’s Gin
  • 1 Part Cointreau
  • 1 part Lime Juice
  • 2-3 dashes Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

I’ll end this post with a little bleg, then. If anyone has some good advice as to rules of thumb about infusing spirits with tea, I’d appreciate a heads up. I’d like to try several things, from some vodka drinks, to Pegus with more standard teas. I think the flavors would meld, and they certainly are regionally appropriate!


  1. Robert Heugel

    15 March

    Thanks for trying out my infusion and Pegu twist. I hope you enjoyed my recommendation. Sorry about not providing any infusion instructions. I generally just take about a half cup of the tea and put it in a standard mason jar with the gin. Again, not very specific I know, but I just have never measured it I guess. Either way, I check the infusion about once every thirty minutes and kind of just pull the tea to taste.

    I response to the Inquisition (who has yet to arrive); I must say that I am aware of the correct version and prefer the Cointreau myself. But in this case, the curacao works better with the smoked gin because it has a sweeter taste and lacks the dryness of Cointreau. This kind of helps to balance the heavy tannins of the tea out more. The Cointreau doesn’t seem to accomplish this as well. Still, I should have pointed out the rationale for this shift n my post.

    So, all in all; I guess I was rather vague in describing this process, but it seems you made it through and helped to clarify my less than descriptive post. Either way, I am glad you took the time to experiment with this as well. I always like when bloggers try other blogger’s recommendations out. One question though – do you have any infused gin left, and what are you going to do with it? Any other experimental ideas?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. Doug

    15 March

    Thanks Robert.
    Except, no thanks. I don’t have any Orange Curacao, so now I have to buy some! I still have some of the over-infused gin on hand, and the first experiment will be making a Pegu with it and the Orange Curacao. The greater sweetness you describe is likely what I’m looking for.

    As for any other ideas, the only thing that springs to mind is a Charred Corpse Reviver #2. I’ll probably try it out, but I’m not sure the prognosis is good!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  3. Robert Heugel

    18 March

    Haha, sorry; I’m always convincing people to spend more money on alcohol than I should. I guess I should just embrace my title as a bad influence. Teh corpse reviver sounds like a great idea. I am going to do this tomorrow at the bar. Thanks for the idea.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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