It seems that just about every brewery in the United States is working with a local coffee roaster to turn out all manner of roasty caffeinated stouts and porters, even cream ales and lagers. And while adding tea to a beer is nothing new, that other warm breakfast beverage has long played second fiddle. That’s changing, and brewers are quickly expanding their exploration of tea and all it can offer to add depth to a recipe.
There’s no firm rule that tea is best suited for low ABV beers, but the evidence that’s been presented thus far seems to indicate that it’s a smart way to go, at least when you’re first using tea as a special ingredient. Cameron Read, the brewing director and partner at Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co. in Charleston, South Carolina, started brewing with tea as a homebrewer several years ago after visiting a teashop in Asheville, North Carolina, and being struck by the nuance of so many different flavors. Owing a bit to historical norms, he first envisioned a beer similar to an English mild as a suitable base recipe.