If you’ve followed The Usual Saucepans for any length of time it’s likely that you’ll have come across gin at some stage; I’m quite the fan. After making my own raspberry gin a few years ago I’ve become quite in to trying to make new flavours whenever I can, and it especially comes out when I’m going to see friends. A while ago I was having an intermittent phone call with a friend (they were driving in the Highlands, the phone signal, unsurprisingly, was a bit patchy) when they mentioned something to do with gin and Earl Grey tea. The context escapes me now, but the idea of an Earl Grey gin stayed with me. Fast forward a couple months and I was visiting said friend (with a few others) for a little highland adventure so it seemed a good opportunity for a new gin.
And quite the adventure it was. Dinner on the Saturday was in a Jamaican restaurant in Inverness called Kool Runnings (no, really. With a K. And all comedy aside, the food was quite good), which was followed by a serious amount of organised fun and Eurovision commentary to rival Mr. Norton’s, and Sunday – most of the day involving a long walk on the beach – evening spent at a country pub with the (unintentionally) comedic waiters who we shall call Baby Wolverine and Space Man – the latter was seriously struggling on account of being totally stoned. As I say, quite an adventure. And gin always helps on weekends like that.
I’ve made Earl Grey gin before (or at least I have photos for it – but no other accompanying memories, although it’s definitely my hand in the photo), but on this occasion it wasn’t just your standard Earl Grey that I used. I had gone into the wonderful Whittards of Chelsea on my way home from work one evening and stood in front of a bank of tins each containing some sort of Earl Grey (I had no idea there were more than a dozen varieties). Thankfully the lovely lady who manages the shop clearly saw I was way out of my depth and came over to tell me at what time of day one is supposed to consume each of the varieties. At the end of her spiel she turned to me and enquired when I was planning on drinking it. “Actually, I’m going to make it into gin” was clearly not the answer she expected. She was briefly a little taken aback, but once her composure was once again in place there was a fantastic ‘only in Edinburgh‘ moment when she told me that she had a mixologist who often came in (I mean, who doesn’t?) and he was a fan of the Earl Grey mixed with green tea, mango and bergamot. Who am I to argue with the professionals? So not only is this Earl Grey, it’s Earl Grey with green tea, mango and bergamot.
Hats off to the mixologist and my friend, the Whittards lady, it was a fantastic choice of tea. I feel I should also mention that said tea and coffee merchant aren’t behind this post, I just really like the tea she suggested. But for balance, let’s go all BBC: other tea and coffee emporiums are available.
This recipe is adapted from my core recipe that I use for a lot of these gins. I used loose leaf Earl Grey tea mixed with green tea, mango and bergamot, you could use tea bag version of the tea, but I think loose leaf is better. It takes a fortnight to make, so ensure you’ve both time and patience. And sterilise your bottle before you bottle the gin.
- 500ml gin
- 30g Earl Grey tea with green tea, mango and bergamot
- 40g caster sugar
Take a large jar – mine was a litre – and add to it the sugar and about 75ml of gin. Put the lid on and swirl the jar around to dissolve as much of the sugar as you can (you’ll do about 50-80%). Once this is done add in the tea and pour the remaining gin in on top. Seal the jar and shake it up gently for about a minute.
Put in a cool dark place for 10-14 days, taking out to shake every day or so. When it’s ready you will see a strong colour when held up agains a white surface (in this case it’s just a bit of an unfortunate colour). Taste a little to ensure it’s not too bitter – it shouldn’t be with the mango, but we all have different tastes! – and then bottle it.
Drink within 3 months, if yours lasts anywhere near that long.