High Tea Redefined: Tatratea Original Tea Liqueur Arrives In U.S.
From Slovakia’s snowcapped High Tatra Mountain Range comes a spirited spin on the most traditional of beverages – tea.
Tatratea Original Tea Liqueurs unite the finest brewed black Assam tea with hundreds of other hand-picked botanical ingredients in a unique fermentation process. The resulting series of six rare herbal spirits are in a category of their own, not to be confused with the current crop of vodkas or other spirits that are simply tea-flavored.
Tatratea was inspired by the old custom where visitors to chalets high in the Tatra mountains (now a famous ski resort area) were welcomed in from the cold with hot herbal tea doused in alcohol. In 2003, Slovakia’s pre-eminent Karloff Tatra distillery set out to add to its portfolio a modern and relevant take on the tradition -- a liqueur for all seasons and reasons. The original 52% (104 proof) Tatratea launched in 2004, and from there, the flavor variations – each with a different proof and taste profile – kept flowing. All six current offerings are eminently sippable on their own, chilled neat, on the rocks, in cool cocktails or hot après ski drinks.
Since then, the brand has claimed a place in the hearts of Slovaks as their national drink, generated a following across Europe, and won multiple international awards. Currently selling an estimated 200,000 cases annually. Tatratea is now poised to charm the U.S. market with its authenticity, originality and versatility.
The Tatratea process begins with the careful selection of premium teas, herbs and other ingredients. Each flavor of Tatratea typically blends some 27 ingredients such as black or white tea, gentian, lemon balm, St. John’s wort, cinnamon and clove. The essences of these fresh ingredients are extracted during a six week maceration period that occurs in three different phases – tea, then herbs, then oak. Then, the first filtration takes place. Next, the resulting tea and herbal base is blended with fruit extracts and distillates and allowed to mature 6 – 8 weeks, followed by a second filtration. Finally, the mixture is combined with the region’s justly famous smooth and balanced mountain spring water, along with a refined alcohol and inverted sugar concentrate. The mixture will mature for at least six more weeks before a final filtration and bottling.
Shake it, stir it, shoot it. Have it chilled neat, on the rocks, or in a hot toddy. Drink it before, during or after dinner. Cook with it, or pour it over ice cream. Tatratea’s subtle and complex flavors let it stand alone or mix well with other drink or food ingredients. Following are snapshots of current Tatratea offerings, from the lowest alcohol by volume and proof to the highest:
- Tatratea Coconut 22% (44 proof) – The newest addition to the Tatratea line is a truly global statement, combining ingredients culled from around the world in a pearlized white bottle. With a low alcohol blend of coconut, white tea and Caribbean rum, it evokes a tropical island. Mix with a splash of pineapple juice for a skinnier take on the Pina Colada.
- Tatratea Citrus 32% (64 proof) - The lime green bottle hints of the citrusy, herbal, and green tea flavors waiting to be discovered inside. Combined with the low alcohol content, these ingredients make for the perfect hot weather libation. Especially good mixed with lemonade, or club soda. And move over, gin and tonic. Tatratea Citrus and tonic – the T & T -- may be the very essence of summer. Also try it poured over lemon sorbet or green tea ice cream.
- Tatratea Peach 42% (84 proof) -- A rose gold colored bottle houses a precious blend of white tea, peaches and herbs. This Gold Medal Winner at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition is both strong and elegant. Try it with soda and a splash of cranberry juice, or dip almond biscotti in it.
- Tatratea Original 52% (104 proof) -- The black bottle is the one that started it all. This magic combination of black tea, raspberry and other fruit distillates has become Tatratea’s number one bestseller in Europe, where 500,000 bottles are sold annually. Distinctive, sophisticated, and surprising, this smooth, mellow liqueur is fruity in character but not overly sweet. Mix with Galliano and pineapple juice to create the “Black and Yellow.” Or drizzle sparingly over pound cake.
- Tatratea Bohemian 62% (124 proof) – Inside a deep purple bottle resides an elixir redolent of black tea and blueberries, the perfect libation for a picnic in the forest under a canopy of trees. This liqueur possesses both depth and lightness. Top with champagne for a subtle and complex take on the traditional Kir Royale.
- Tatratea Outlaw 72% (144 proof) -- Complex, invigorating, and impossibly smooth despite its high proof, Outlaw captures the very essence of premium black tea. This powerhouse of flavor and warmth is appropriately housed in a gunmetal colored bottle. Rule breakers shoot it or mix it. To resist would be criminal!