Looking for a refreshing and subtle drink to serve on a hot summer’s day? Or maybe something to remind you of the sun during the dark winter months? This bright white tea cocktail with cucumber, thyme, honey and a splash of sparkling water or sparkling wine is perfect for any time of year.
Ingredients and Substitutions
We’re currently in the middle of the Winter holiday season, and summer seems like a distant memory at this point, but sometimes I just have a little trouble letting go! Although maybe something holidayish like a spicy cranberry margarita may technically be more appropriate, I still feel like the occasional light, citrusy and icy cold drink in between.
To start my guests off when entertaining at the holidays, I will be preparing these beautiful white tea cocktails with honey and cucumber.
They make the perfect pre-dinner drinks, with subtle flavors that won’t ruin anyone’s appetite, and not too much alcohol: just enough to get folks in the mood for what’s to come. I think I’ll be serving these year-round!
When making a white tea cocktail, it’s important to remember that your star ingredient is a very subtle one. White tea is not something you want to combine with heavy flavors, as it’s easy for the light and floral notes to get lost in the shuffle.
This is why, in this recipe, we’re combining our white tea with other bright flavors that aren’t too overpowering. Here’s what we’ll be using:
- White tea: made of minimally processed leaves of the tea plant, this is one of the most delicate teas available. I used loose-leaf, but some stores will also carry white tea in baggies. For a little added flavor you could try this white tea with hibiscus. Just know that it will give a rosy tint to your cocktail (not at all bad).
- Honey: You could use a simple syrup as an alternative, but the complex flavors of honey really pair fantastically with white tea. If you’re concerned about calories, stevia could work as a sweetener.
- Lemon: because this cocktail does need a little extra kick (though without becoming too overpowering), we’re using fresh lemon. Lime or orange would also work.
- Cucumber ribbons: the subtle flavor of cucumber works fantastically to add even more freshness, complement white tea and pull everything together. If you like something fruitier and they’re in season, you could even swap these out for melon ribbons. If the cucumber flavor is what you want to emphasize, you can add a splash of cucumber vodka.
- Thyme: adds a herbal note. You could also use mint if you prefer it, but don’t go too heavy on it to prevent the whole thing from turning into a mint cocktail rather than a white tea one.
- Sparkling water: just to top it all off and add a refreshing fizz.
For my white tea cocktails, I used vodka, as I didn’t want the alcohol to interfere with any of the other flavors. However, any unobtrusive white spirit should work: gin or white rum would also make good choices.
For those who prefer staying alcohol-free, this cocktail is good news: because the spirits aren’t supposed to impact the flavor much anyway. Itworks just as well as a subtle non-alcoholic drink.
Tip: Although I may be starting out my Winter holiday with this light and refreshing cocktail, of course, that’s not how I’m going to end it. For those after-dinner chats bundled up by the fireplace, I’ll be going for a nice cranberry apple tea drink instead.
Recipe for White Tea Cocktail with Cucumber and Sparkling Water
White Tea Cocktail With Cucumber, Honey & Sparkling Wine (or water)
- 1 cocktail muddler or wooden spoon
- 2 tall or balloon glasses
- 1 tbsp loose leaf white tea or 1 sachet tea bag
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 4 slices lemon
- 3 oz vodka or white rum or gin
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme or mint if preferable
- 4 cucumber ribbons optional: a few slices to muddle
- 1 cup sparkling water alternatively use sparkling wine or champagne
- Boil the water and steep the white tea for up to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool a little.1 tbsp loose leaf white tea, 1 cup water
- Place 2 lemon slices, 2 thyme sprigs (or mint) and honey (plus extra cucumber if you're using it) in your cocktail shaker with the vodka and use a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon to smash.1 tbsp honey, 4 slices lemon, 6 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 oz vodka
- Add the tea you brewed and plenty of ice. Shake well.ice
- Add ice and cucumber ribbons to the cocktail glasses.4 cucumber ribbons
- Pour in the cocktail mixture and give it a last stir.
- Top with sparkling water. Garnish with the extra thyme and lemon.4 slices lemon, 1 cup sparkling water, 6 sprigs fresh thyme