Fresh back from my tea sommelier course in Hawaii this week, I’m tired, sunburned, and in need of an extra dose of relaxation. It’s like I need a vacation after vacation…go figure!
I love drinking white teas during the hot summer season. As close to unprocessed as tea can be, white teas undergo minimal processing and are commonly sun-dried. White teas produce delicate notes like honeysuckle or jasmine. In taste, fragrance, and effect, they are subtle. One of my favorite white tea blends is Chambre de Sucre’s Tea 104 Evening Engagement. This organic Bai Mu Dan blend is a mix of large white tea leaves, pink rose petals, and white chrysanthemum blossoms. This tea’s bouquet-like qualities make it an ideal infuser to sweet white wine, enhancing the fruit and floral flavors without overwhelming them.
To infuse wine with any tea blend, you’ll want to plan ahead and mix the loose tea leaves into the wine the night before serving. This cold brewing method produces a clean brew, one that helps to retain the wine’s clarity. Let the leaves swim freely in the alcohol, allowing them to fully expand and release their flavor. The next day, remove the tea leaves using a fine mesh strainer.
Seasonal stone fruits and berries make an excellent summer inspired sangria. Pick whatever fruits look fabulous at the market. Fruits that aren’t overly ripe or mushy are ideal so that the wine stays relatively clear upon serving. I prefer a mix of organic Rainier cherries, white nectarines, apricots, and strawberries to add a light honey-like sweetness and mild acidity to this refreshing drink.
Any crisp white wine will work well here, but Moscato is my favorite. As a desert wine, Moscato is sweeter than other white wines. In combination with the cut fruits and depending on the brand you use, this wine is often sweet enough so that you don’t have to add any additional sweeteners to the sangria.This is a beautiful sangria to serve on any hot late summer evening, after a meal as desert. The drink is only mildly sweet and the white tea and flowers give it an alluring, perfume-like taste. What I love most about this sangria are the chunks of wine and tea-soaked fruit leftover long after all the booze is gone. A romantic and dreamy sip, this White Tea Summer Sangria will make any midsummer evening a memorable one.
White Tea Summer Sangria
Makes 1 large pitcher of sangria.
2- 750ml bottles of white wine (I prefer moscato)
1/2 cup of flowery white tea (I used Chambre de Sucre’s Evening Engagement)
2 white nectarines or peaches, not overly ripe, cut into slices
3 apricots, not overly ripe, cut into slices
1 1/2 cups of Rainier cherries, destemmed, cut in half, and pitted
1 cup strawberries, destemmed and cut in half
1/4 cup sugar, agave, or honey (optional-to taste)
extra fruit for garnish
2 large pitchers
medium mesh strainer
large, long spoon
1. The night before you plan on serving, pour the wine into a large pitcher. In a mesh strainer, use some hot water to give the tea leaves a quick rinse, just for a few seconds. This step will help to wash off any surface debris off of the leaves and also help to soften them. Add these rinsed leaves to the wine, mixing them in thoroughly. Let the tea steep in the wine overnight, in the fridge.
2. About 6-8 hours before you plan on serving the sangria, remove the tea leaves by decanting from one pitcher into another one. Place a fine mesh strainer on top of the 2nd pitcher to strain out the tea leaves. Add the cut fruits into the tea infused wine. Place this fruited wine back in the fridge to steep for 6-8 hours before serving.
3. Just before serving, taste the wine to see if any sweetener is necessary. Then, if you prefer, mix in a sweetener to taste. To serve, use a spoon to distribute some fruit into each glass, then top off each glass with the infused wine. Place a few extra pieces of fruit on the top or rim of each glass as a garnish. Enjoy!