How to Make Bourbon Iced Tea

How to Make Bourbon Iced Tea
Bourbon lovers and iced tea lovers of the world, unite! Today, bourbon and tea come together in three delicious bourbon iced tea cocktails!
Bourbon lovers and iced tea lovers of the world, unite! Today, bourbon and tea come together in three delicious bourbon iced tea cocktails.

One Concept, Endless Cocktails


Mixing tea and booze is a highly customizable endeavor. Sure, you could follow a recipe, but in the worlds of bourbon and tea, there is so much variation, sometimes it’s more fun to create your own recipe. And in the end, you know what you like. So why play by someone else’s rules?
Of course, I will provide you with recipes here, but feel free to play around with them or use them as a guideline to create your own personalized cocktails using the bourbon and teas you love most!
Below, you will find three bourbon iced tea cocktails with totally unique flavors, but they all follow the same basic concept: combine tea, bourbon, bitters, and a sweetener in a glass with some ice. Mix. Enjoy!
That’s it. That’s the formula.
As it is, the bitters are optional. With nothing but the tea, bourbon, and sweeteners, you have endless possibilities to create new and interesting iced tea cocktails all summer long!
Three glasses of bourbon iced tea sit on a wooden tray, next to a silver tea infuser filled with tea leaves.

Choosing Your Tea


As with any tea cocktail, the most important choice you make will be to select your tea. For me, bourbon and black tea are a no-brainer. And since I drink most of my cocktails after five PM, decaf is also an important factor!
That left me with a handful of great decaf black tea options to choose from, and after that, it was a fun process of matching notes in the tea to notes in my bitters and sweeteners collection.
You may not be as sensitive to the amount of caffeine in your tea as I am, and if that is the case, the world is your oyster-flavored cocktail! (Gross.)
You can choose any tea, no matter how highly caffeinated, and take it from tea time to happy hour to after-dinner drinks! There are plenty of black teas that are fabulous iced! Any one of them would be a tasty base for a boozy concoction of your own making. A spicy iced chai cocktail, a grown-up Thai iced tea, an Arnold Palmer with a twist
Today, though, the focus is three variations on a simple bourbon iced tea: one with orange, one with smoke, and one with an earthy, nutty blend.

Comfort Bourbon Iced Tea: A Citrusy Classic


Any lover of Old Fashions will tell you that bourbon and orange are a natural pairing. Comfort Blend black tea, with its zesty orange peel and luscious orange extract, is the perfect starting point for a foray into bourbon iced tea cocktails. The spicy warmth from the cinnamon chips, cloves, and ginger beautifully offset the brightness of the citrus, adding intricacy and nuance without fancy bitters or syrups.
For the cocktail, I did use Angostura Orange Bitters to bring out even more of those juicy orange notes. Any citrus bitters that you have would be lovely here: blood orange, grapefruit, lemon…each one will add its own twist. (If you’ll pardon the pseudo-pun.) If you’re craving that classic orange and bourbon combo, Angostura bitters are a great way to lean into that flavor.
Topping it off with a touch of sweetener really makes this cocktail shine. I taste-tested it before and after adding just a splash of simple syrup, and I will be honest: before the syrup, it was fine, but a little dull and flat.
Pouring in just a dash of sweetener brought out vivacity and dimension that had previously been lacking. Suddenly it was bright, dynamic, and begging to be enjoyed in the shade of a leafy tree or a porch swing on a warm summer’s day.
If you don’t have simple syrup on hand, stirring in a smattering of rock sugar would be perfect! It adds sweetness without changing the flavor of your beverage. It doesn’t take much, and it makes a world of difference!

Fireside Bourbon Iced Tea: A Smoky Sensation


Fireside Chat smoked black tea is in a category all its own. It brings to mind campfires under the stars. Cozy nights curled up by the fireplace. History. Sophistication. Gallantry. If you like whiskey with some smoke, this is the tea for you! Because they are not kidding when they say “smoky.” That smoke comes through, make no mistake! It makes a wonderful pairing for a bourbon cocktail.
The blend is a unique, beguiling arrangement of flavors: the smoky base sets the stage, layered with chocolate, walnut, and vanilla essences for softness and allure. The subtle spice from cinnamon and ginger is complemented by calendula petals, and cocoa nibs are enhanced by a smattering of safflower to highlight the complexity of smoke balanced by sweetness and spice. The result is comforting yet compelling; truly one of a kind!
To bring out the depth of the chocolate notes, I used chocolate bitters in the cocktail. Any chocolate bitters would do, but in this case, I used Mexican Chocolate bitters—the extra hint of spice from chiles and earthiness from coffee takes it to a whole new level!
Because there are so many layers to the tea, there’s an opportunity to really have fun with the bitters. You could opt for black walnut, coffee, spiced, or whatever you think would best reinforce the element of the blend you’d like to augment.
Personally, I didn’t think this cocktail needed a sweetener. For my tastes, the flavors of the tea, bourbon, and bitters stood on their own!
If, however, you’d like to lean into the natural sweetness of the vanilla and chocolate essences, a sprinkling of Vanilla Sugar Dust would pair very nicely! You could even create a sugar rim using the Vanilla Dust, maybe mixing in a bit of cocoa powder to play up the chocolate—or, if you’re feeling daring, a dash of hickory salt to punch up that smoke!

Oregon Breakfast Bourbon Iced Tea: A Medley You’ll Go Nuts For


Finally, we round out the trio of cocktails with a medley of nutty flavors rooted in Oregon Breakfast decaf tea—a simple, hearty brew of Honeybush tea, hazelnut essence, and orange peel.
Oregon Breakfast tea, despite what the name suggests, is delightful at any time of day! The tea description says it all: “the earthy base of Honeybush tea helps center you, and the ping of orange helps wake you and get you excited about today’s possibilities...simple, yet rich with subtle flavors.”
In cocktail form, I think it is perfectly suited to balmy afternoons, cheery get-togethers with friends, and well-deserved after-work treats! It transitions seamlessly from afternoon “it’s five o’clock somewhere” vibes to after-dinner “I deserve a dessert cocktail” vibes.
The creaminess of the almond milk and richness of the hazelnut reminds me of a dreamy iced latte from a coffee shop…something you order when the sun is high and there’s a spring in your step because you have a tasty beverage and life is good!
To boost the foundational nutty flavor profile, I turned to black walnut bitters. A healthy splash directly in your cocktail glass will buoy the inherent nuttiness of the tea and add a bit more body. For sweetness, the drink seemed to call for something darker and more robust than classic sugar, so maple syrup seemed a natural fit.
I drizzled in a touch of pure maple syrup since that’s what I had on hand, but Maple Dust, made with pulverized maple syrup and organic coconut sugar, would be an excellent add-in! Since it dissolves perfectly in both hot and cold liquids, you could sprinkle it into your tea once it’s steeped, or stir it into your cocktail as a finishing touch. Either way, the result will be delicious!
The splash of almond milk is optional, but I do highly recommend it, both for texture and taste. It provides a lush, creamy mouthfeel, and compliments the hazelnut beautifully! Definitely worth the extra ingredient. Pour in a healthy dose and watch as the pale, swirling liquid infuses your drink with decadent almond flavor—pure bliss!
Try each of these bourbon iced tea cocktails, paired with different moods and summer moments, and create your own using your favorite Plum Deluxe teas! Share your creations with us on social media @plumdeluxe—we’d love to see what you come up with!
Cheers, friend!
Image shows three glasses of bourbon iced tea on a wooden table, each next to the tea used to make them: Comfort Blend decaf black tea, Oregon Breakfast decaf tea, and Fireside Chat black tea.


Comfort Blend Bourbon Iced Tea



Ingredients:
  • 1-2 teaspoon Decaf* Comfort Blend loose leaf tea, depending on desired strength
  • 4-6 ounces boiling water
  • 1/2 - 1 ounce bourbon, according to taste.
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • Angostura Orange Bitters (or bitters of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup or rock sugar (adjust according to taste)
  • Strip of fresh orange rind for garnish

Directions:
Brew a cup of strong tea. Pour boiling water over tea leaves, steep according to package.
Add 3-5 ice cubes to hot tea, stir vigorously to melt cubes and cool tea.
Prepare your cocktail glass: add a generous dash of bitters and swirl to coat the inside of the glass. Fill with remaining ice cubes.
Pour cooled tea over ice. Add bourbon. Add sweetener. Stir well to combine.
Serve with a twist of orange peel for garnish.
Enjoy!
*Also available caffeinated.


Fireside Chat Bourbon Iced Tea



Ingredients:
  • 1-2 tsp Decaf* Fireside Chat Blend loose leaf tea, depending on desired strength
  • 4-6 ounces boiling water
  • ½ - 1 ounce bourbon, according to taste.
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • Chocolate Bitters (or bitters of choice)
  • Vanilla Sugar Dust, (or sweetener of choice) optional**

Directions:
Brew a cup of strong tea. Pour boiling water over tea leaves, steep according to package.
Add 3-5 ice cubes to hot tea, stir vigorously to melt cubes and cool tea.
Prepare your cocktail glass: if using sugar rim, moisten the rim of glass and coat with vanilla sugar dust. Add a generous dash of bitters inside the glass, and swirl to coat. Fill with remaining ice cubes.
Pour cooled tea over ice. Add bourbon. Add sweetener if desired. Stir well to combine.
Enjoy!
*Also available caffeinated.
**Note: sweetener isn’t necessarily recommended for the flavor profile of this cocktail, but everyone’s palate is different! You may find that you prefer it with a touch of sweetener, or you may like it without! I recommend mixing the cocktail without the sweetener first, taste-testing, and adjusting as necessary.


Oregon Breakfast Blend Bourbon Iced Tea



Ingredients:
  • 1-2 teaspoon Decaf* Oregon Breakfast loose leaf tea, depending on desired strength
  • 4-6 ounces boiling water
  • 1/2 - 1 ounce bourbon, according to taste.
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • Black Walnut Bitters (or bitters of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or Maple Dust (adjust according to tastes)
  • Splash of almond milk

Directions:
Brew a cup of strong tea. Pour boiling water over tea leaves, steep according to package.
Add 3-5 ice cubes to hot tea, stir vigorously to melt cubes and cool tea.
Prepare your cocktail glass: add a generous dash of bitters and swirl to coat the inside of the glass. Fill with remaining ice cubes.
Pour cooled tea over ice. Add bourbon. Add milk. Add sweetener. Stir well to combine.
Enjoy!
*Also available caffeinated.

Erica Jolly

Erica Jolly is a born and raised Pacific North Westerner. Rainwater flows through her veins. She is a tea drinker by day, wine drinker by night, and lover of food, yoga, and rambling conversations.
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