Chances are, if you're reading this article, you already have your own reasons for wanting to cut back on alcohol. From craft beer to wine and spirits, alcohol is often the “default” choice for easing social interactions - something we pull out as a personal “reward” to manage stress or celebrate something.
If we’re going to find healthy alternatives for alcohol, we need to find beverages that can satisfy our reasons for reaching for it in the first place. We need alcohol replacements that shine as social drinks and have a celebratory special feeling that serves as a reward and a positive way to relax and relieve stress.
The good news is that there are other beverages out there that can fill this role as healthier alternatives to alcohol. In this article, we’ll be exploring these other drinks, inspired by one of humans’ other oldest and most widely consumed beverages - tea.
Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol
enjoying tea as a healthy alcohol alternative
You might wonder - how can tea be a healthy, positive alternative to alcohol? A hot cuppa doesn’t seem anything like a cocktail or glass of wine. In this article, we’ll be exploring ways to utilize tea’s natural complexity and feel-good qualities in other formats, from mocktails and fancy sparklers to more ritual-focused social tea drinking styles. With this in mind, the next time you have a party or just want something great for yourself, you will have some options that offer just as much - if not more - than the “default” choice.
Mocktails are non alcoholic cocktails. The best mocktails rely on alcohol-free mixology to make fun, celebratory drinks that look as good as they taste. When making mocktail drinks to replace alcohol, the challenge is building complexity and depth into a drink without a hard spirit base. Modern mixologists are increasingly turning to tea to achieve that complexity. Next time you want to serve something ‘fancy’ consider a tea mocktail like these:
• Dark & Not Too Stormy:
combine ginger ale with a concentrated shot of Wuyi oolong tea - garnish with a cinnamon stick or fresh-grated nutmeg
• Green Tea Cooler:
combine a shot of Laoshan Green tea with honey, then muddle with fresh mint and pour over ice - garnish with sprigs of mint
• Oolong Punch:
combine a shot of Wuyi oolong tea with guava and pineapple juice and a bar spoon of orgeat - garnish with an orange slice
How to Make Mocktails with Tea
Start with a strongly-brewed iced tea as a base, and then elaborate with your favorite herbs, sweeteners and fruit juices. Garnish with citrus peel, or a sprig of mint. If you prefer, you can also combine tea with your favorite sweetener to make a delicious simple syrup. If you start with good tea, you can’t go wrong!
More and more breweries are giving up tap lines to non alcoholic Kombucha, a brewed and fermented non alcoholic cousin to beer that starts with tea and sugar to make a sour, probiotic sparkling tea drink.
Kombucha is one of the easiest, most popular alternatives to alcohol on a night out because of its intense flavor and sparkle. A glass of non alcoholic kombucha swaps alcohol for tea’s unique caffeine + L-theanine balance. Plus, kombucha is a chance for homebrewers to geek out and make their own. If you do make your own kombucha, remember, kombucha is mainly tea, so use the best you can!
You can also use kombucha for good non alcoholic cocktails like:
• Kombucha Mimosa
pair lychee or white grape kombucha with orange juice and a few drops of vanilla
• Kombucha Lemonade
pair your favorite kombucha with lemonade for a sparkling treat
• Komucha Cosmo
add a splash of cranberry juice to sparkling kombucha - garnish with an citrus or star anise
Soda is often the default alcohol substitute at a party, but why not fancy things up a bit with a sparkling tea drink? It feels more satisfying than a soda, and you can control your sweetener or even leave sugar out entirely. Sparkling tea is not only great on its own, but excellent as the base to a mocktail.
How to Make Tea Soda
The easiest way to make a tea soda is to brew a very strong iced tea and simply add sparkling water. You can also create a tea simple syrup to add to sparkling water - just switch out concentrated tea for water in a classic simple syrup recipe.
If you want to up your game, you can even directly carbonate iced tea with a sparkling water maker or a keg and some CO2.
Flash Chill Iced Tea
Flash-chilled ice tea is one of the most compelling alternatives to drinking alcohol - it looks beautiful, and it is even made in a cocktail shaker.
What more could you ask for?
Unlike iced tea you buy at a store, flash chill is rich, potent, textural, and complex enough to stand in for an alcoholic beverage.
How to Make Flash Chill Iced Tea with a cocktail shaker
Brew a double-strong shot of tea in a pot or a mug and pour it over ice in a shaker. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds, and then pour out over fresh ice.
Admire the foamy frothy results, and the great texture you get with this method. Learn more >>