By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jan 05, 2010 at 5:18 AM

Even though most alcoholic drinks served warm are made with coffee or cider, hot tea drinks are gaining popularity.  At first, steaming tea and booze might seem like an unusual mix, but with the right ingredients and a little creativity, it’s possible.

"Some teas definitely work better than others," says Ghazal Sheei, the marketing director for Rishi Tea, an organic, Fair Trade tea company based in Milwaukee.

Kevin Sardino, Rishi’s head blender for 10 years, experimented with a variety of alcoholic tea drinks. Currently, Rishi and Great Lakes Distillery are working on a product that combines Rishi’s cinnamon plum tea with Great Lake’s Rehorst vodka.

Sardino also recommends mixing Rishi’s cinnamon plum tea with hot cider and a splash of hootch for a hot mulled drink with a little kick.

"You can add a little whiskey or brandy to this drink and it’s very tasty," says Sardino.

He says mixing a black tea -- like Rishi’s organic black tea vanilla  -- with Bailey’s also works, much like an Irish coffe but with tea as the main ingredient. The sweet, creaminess of the Bailey’s cuts the strong flavor of the black tea and makes it more appealing for some drinkers.

"It’s like drinking tea British-style, with milk in it," says Sardino. "You can also add whiskey to a black tea / Bailey’s drink if you want to make it even stronger."

Traditionally, iced tea is used in alcoholic beverages to concoct summertime favorites like the long island iced tea. Also, in recent years, green tea martinis -- usually called "Zentinis" --  appeared on drink menus and are made with a green tea liqueur.

When mixing hot tea and spirits, Sardino suggests making the tea stronger than usual -- actually doubling the amount of tea used -- so the alcohol doesn’t overpower the taste of the tea.

"The possiblities are endless, really," says Sardino.

Locally, you can sample hot tea drinks at Cafe Centraal, 2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Centraal's drink menu features spiked masala chai latte, made with Rishi chai tea, Captain Morgan rum and pumpkin puree.

Other alcoholic tea drinks:

Mulled tea with red wine

8 ounces of strong tea
2 1/2 ounces sugar
16 ounces of red wine
1 teaspoon ground cloves
One cinnamon stick
Rind of one lemon

Boil the tea, lemon rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves together until the sugar dissolves. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Strain out cinnamon stick and the rind. Add more sugar if need be. Serve with a slice of lemon.

Green Tea Tokyo

2 ounces white rum
1 tablespoon honey
Five sprigs of mint
2 tablespoons sugar syrup (see link below)
6 ounces hot green tea

Combine ingredients in a mug and serve. If you want to strain out the mint, let it sit for two minutes before removing the sprigs.

Hot Tea Grog

1 ounce cognac
1 ounce dark rum
1 cup brewed tea
Several cloves
1/2 teaspoon honey
Pinch of nutmeg

Heat tea and other ingredients in a saucepan. Serve hot with a cinnamon stick.

Jaeger Tea

3 ounces Schnapps
3 ounces rum
6 ounces water
Juice from one orange
One tea bag (black)

Heat ingredients together in a saucepan until boiling. Let simmer for five minutes and serve. Sugar to taste.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.