Friday, 22 August 2014

Harry Brompton's Premium Alcoholic London Ice Tea

The perfect serve of Harry Brompton's
When I'm queuing up at the bar for 2-for-1 cocktails or heading to free wine tastings to try the expensive stuff I wouldn't normally buy, I sometimes pause to think whether I have yet grown up or whether I'm still revelling in being a twenty-something (which I no longer am) booze lover.

When will I be struck with the realisation that it's not how much you drink anymore, but the quality of what you're drinking? Working in the wine industry I should know this, but still, I like to have a good time!

Every now and again I have a moment of clarity - yes, I am growing up and am now a responsible thirty-something (just). It happened a few weeks ago when I visited Feast festival at Tobacco Dock in London. I was on my own and after the panic of not knowing where to begin, I headed to visit the team at the Harry Brompton's Alcoholic Ice Tea stand. I'd been recommended to visit them, so I made it my first stop.

As I then wandered solo around the rest of the festival sipping my Harry Brompton's through a red and white candy striped straw, I felt in the grown up category. It wasn't a case of knocking it back as quick as I could, or wondering how many shots of alcohol were in it, it was a genuinely enjoyable drinking experience. Unlike wine, I didn't immediately think of food pairings, unlike cocktails it wasn't about presentation, I simply enjoyed it for was it was.

Born in London and handmade in limited batches, Harry Brompton's is the world's only premium alcoholic ice tea. Made with ethically sourced Kenyan black teas, craft distilled grain spirit and infused with natural citrus, it's lightly sparkling and 100% refreshing. At just 4% abv it's not overpowered by an alcoholic taste and the tea and citrus are definitely the front-runners when it comes to flavour. There's also a little sweetness but not too much and a subtle caramel flavour. Like wine, tea also has tannins, and this is detected, but again, not overpowering in Harry Brompton's.

Ian O'Donohue at the Harry Brompton stand at Feast
Down at Feast, I chatted to Ian O'Donohue, who, with his father Martin, set out to produce an exceptional ice tea after years of disappointment throughout their travels.

Many ice tea are too sweet, and for me, that's what set Harry Brompton's apart from any others I've previously tasted (and I've tasted a lot!).

His pride was in sourcing the tea from Kenya where it's handpicked and processed within two hours to lock in the flavours and capture the character of the terroir in which it's grown.

Ian explained that like wine, tea leaves are similar to the grapes in that the flavours are influenced by the altitude, climate and soil quality. Ian and Martin source their teas from the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, where the plants are gown over two thousand metres above sea level and the soil is fertile - perfect for producing complex black teas.

As for the perfect serve, it's best poured over ice with a slice of lime and a fruit garnish as a long drink, or straight from an ice cold bottle with a wedge of lime (I'm told Harry Brompton's is better with lime that lemon). That said, if you want to jazz it up, you can use it in a number of cocktails - it's best paired with white spirits like gin and vodka to allow the tea flavours to still shine. These two cocktails from the Mixology page on the Harry Brompton's website are definitely on my 'cocktails to make' list - please summer stay a little longer so we can enjoy them al fresco!

Gin Brompton
Tall glass, half filled with ice, add 25-35ml gin, add lime and cucumber slices and top up with Harry Brompton's.

Tall glass, add 35ml gin or vodka muddled with bruised mint leaves, lime and sugar syrup then top up with Harry Brompton's and gently stir.

Harry Brompton's with chicken wings from Dirty Bones
Good new is, Harry Brompton's Alcoholic Ice Tea is available at Sainsbury's where it's currently on offer at £1.50 for a 275ml retro bottle, and for £2.00 per 275ml bottle at Waitrose, as well as at a number of independent retailers around the country.

p.s. It's also really nice with chicken wings from Dirty Bones - a la my lunch at Feast!

Chin chin!

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