The blueberry tea cocktail is both deceptive and surprising. That's because there are no blueberries nor blueberry-flavored ingredients included. Instead, the taste of this warm drink is surprisingly reminiscent of the sweet berries.
The recipe is actually quite simple and it's little more than spiked tea served in a fancy glass. And yet, that does not discount the wonder of this hot cocktail. The steaming combination of Grand Marnier, amaretto, and black tea is fascinating and an absolute delight to the senses.
By using a brandy snifter rather than a tea cup or coffee mug, the fragrance is trapped inside. The glass is further accented with an orange wheel that floats atop the tea. In essence, it's a drink that gives as much to your nose as it does to your mouth.
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat a brandy snifter by filling the glass with warm water while brewing your tea. Dump it out right before making the drink.
Pour the Grand Marnier and amaretto into the warm brandy snifter.
Fill the snifter two-thirds of the way to the top with warm orange pekoe tea.
Stir the drink.
Garnish with an orange wheel.
Serve and enjoy!
In order to get that amazing blueberry-like flavor, you really cannot play around with the ingredients much. There is a variety of amaretto brands available, though it would be best to stick with a high-end label like Luxardo or Disaronno.
In contrast, there are not many great substitutes for Grand Marnier. While there are many orange liqueurs available, few have the Cognac base that this drink requires. Don't try triple sec, Cointreau, or anything like that because they simply will not work.
GranGala is the one brand that can be recommended as a Grand Marnier substitute. This one is from Italy and has a brandy rather than French Cognac base. It's quite nice and you will find that it saves a little money, too.
The Orange Pekoe Tea
Here's a little drink geek trivia for you: orange pekoe tea is not orange-flavored. Rather, this is the name for a specific grade of orthodox black tea. This is important for the simple fact that you wouldn't want to confuse it with teas that have orange flavorings. You will not get the "blueberry" flavor that makes the blueberry tea special with an orange-based tea.
If you do not have orange pekoe tea in stock, substitute it with another black tea or a blend like Earl Grey (which does have a hint of citrus). In the least, use a green tea or an oolong tea in its place.
More importantly, to make the best blueberry tea possible, pay attention to your water temperature and brewing time. For black teas, you will want water heated between 180 F and 212 F, just under a full boil. The brewing time should be 3 to 5 minutes, though it's always a good idea to follow the recommendation of the particular tea you're using.
How Strong Is the Blueberry Tea?
Grand Marnier is an 80 proof liqueur, making it as strong as most vodkas, whiskies, and rums. That means that this warm tea may not be as light as you think.
When paired with a 42 proof amaretto and topped with 3 ounces of tea, this blueberry tea weighs in around 10 percent ABV (20 proof). It is still very gentle and on the lower end of mixed drinks that include hard liquor.