This month’s theme? Florals. On dresses, on dinnerware, on décor... Yep, we’re living, breathing and now, drinking florals. And we could think of no better person to turn to for botanical-beverage inspiration than Lottie Muir, aka the Cocktail Gardener.
With the arrival of the warmer weather we’ve been longing to gather in the garden and get back in touch with nature, so naturally our thoughts turned to Lottie’s botanical infusions. An Iced Spring Tonic Tea, brimming with antioxidants, refreshing notes of citrus and complete with flowery garnish would be the perfect accompaniment for those sunny, springtime brunches we have planned.
So, grab the good glassware out of the back of the cupboard, crack out the ice trays and let cocktail-creator Lottie show you how it’s done.
‘’Nature provides bitter herbs in spring to restore our bodies after winter. These beautiful herbs fire up our digestive systems, detox our livers and kidneys, kickstart our lymphatic systems, and increase our energy levels. Dandelion leaves, chickweed, nettle tips, Mahonia aquifolium, cleavers, violets, and primroses all have such medicinal effects. Combine these, and serve over ice with soda or tonic water, and you have a tea that is as restorative as it is refreshing.’’
What you’ll need
- Heatproof measuring pitcher
- Teapot (optional)
- Tea strainer
- Highball/rocks glass
For the mocktail
- 4 heaped teaspoons (about a handful) of fresh nettle tips
- Dandelion leaves
- Mahonia flowers
- Pink/wood sorrel
- Violet leaves and flowers
- Primrose leaves and flowers
- 200ml boiling water
- 1 teaspoon of honey (optional)
- Squeeze of fresh lemon (optional)
- A handful of ice cubes
- Soda or tonic water, to taste
- 2 dashes of Citrus Bitters (optional)
How it’s made
- To make the spring tonic tea, pick your choice of plants in an area you trust to be as clean and fresh as possible. Pick only one or two leaves or flowers from each plant, so you don’t harm them. Pick only the first four leaves of very young nettles, using latex gloves to pinch them hard to avoid the sting. You probably won’t need gloves to do this once you get used to it—confidence and a firm grip are key—plus nettles lose their sting as soon as they hit boiling water. Free the leaves and flowers of any wildlife, brush off any soil, and tear any leaves into small 1 inch pieces.
- Pour 200ml of boiling water per serve over the fresh or dried herbs in either the pitcher or teapot (depending on the quantity you are making). Steep for at least 5 minutes (longer if a more bitter taste is required). Add the teaspoon of honey and squeeze of lemon (if using), while the tea is still piping hot. Strain the tea into a clean pitcher and let cool.
- Fill the highball or rocks glass with ice cubes. 125ml of the cold tea over the ice and top up with soda or tonic water, according to taste. Add a couple of dashes of bitters, if desired. (Note: Some bitters may contain alcohol, unless glycerin has been used instead.) If you wish, garnish with some of the flowers from your forays. Here, I have used violets and mahonia flowers.
To turn a mocktail into a cocktail
To transform the iced tea into a cocktail, add a measure or two (30–60ml) of alcohol (gin, vodka, and white rum all work well).
Take it easy
Do not consume more than two teacups of this tea per day.
Create more delicious mocktails and low-sugar cocktails with Lottie Muir’s Wild Mocktails and Healthy Cocktails.