Thursday, March 28, 2019

Oolong Hai Tea Cocktail Recipe

It's tea cocktail time! Have you heard of an oolong hai? It's a deliciously refreshing Japanese tea cocktail that is super simple to make. You just need three ingredients- cold oolong tea, shochu, and ice.

What Is An Oolong Hai Tea Cocktail?
Oolong hai is a drink popular at izakaya restaurants and karaoke bars in Japan. I've had it at a few local Japanese places here in NY, and I just love the earthy, refreshing flavor. I'm imagining sitting out on our little patio in the springtime, listening to the birds and sipping an oolong hai.

The drink is called a 'hai', because it's short for 'highball'. A highball is basically whiskey with a mixer. The oolong hai is reminiscent of the original drink, with an interesting spin using shochu and tea. I find the oolong hai to be a bit more delicate than a highball. Depending on the variety of shochu you use the drink can be quite subtle, allowing the oolong tea to shine through.

Oolong Hai Ingredients
First, let's talk about the shochu. Shochu is a Japanese distilled liquor, usually made from sweet potato (imo), barley (mugi), or rice (kome). Each one has a different flavor, which will slightly change the overall flavor profile of your cocktail. Finding shochu may not be as simple as going to the liquor store. You may need to call around to see which store near you carries it. I had to visit a few stores until I found one that had it (I should have called ahead!). But you can also order it online, and as with any other liquor there are different grades and price points.

Of course, you'll also need an oolong tea. From everything I've seen, a medium to heavier-oxidized/roasted oolong is a good choice. I wouldn't use anything floral here, but you could certainly try one and see how it works. I decided to use a Muzha Tieguanyin for my cocktail, mainly because I had it in the house. Dong ding would work nicely too, whatever darker oolong you've got. I like to do a cold brewed tea, but if you don't want to wait, you can brew the tea to double strength and ice it.

Oolong Hai Tea Cocktail Recipe
The recipe is super simple! The basic recipe is six parts tea to four parts shochu.

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour over 120ml of shochu, then add 180ml of tea. Stir and enjoy!

Additions and Substitutions To Your Oolong Hai
If you feel like changing out the type of tea, you can make a sencha hai, which is also a popular drink and I'm sure it would be just as refreshing. I keep thinking hojicha would be a delicious substitution, which I'm going to try next!

If you'd like this to be closer to a classic highball you can add a fizzy component such as club soda or even ginger ale. A squeeze of lemon would also make it a nice summertime drink. It can be tailored to whatever flavors you feel like adding, since the shochu is so subtle.

Have you encountered any other interesting oolong hai cocktails? I'd love to hear your experience with them. Kanpai!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Had this at a Japanese Izakaya in India. The only alcoholic drink I enjoyed having! Looking for places that serve this here in Canada