Shochu Pearls

I generally scoff at combinations involving tea and alcohol (or food, for that matter), but I sometimes make exceptions when I’m feeling inventive, and as long as no really high quality tea is harmed in the process. The particular cocktail shown in the photos is shochu with jasmine pearls infused into it. The drink does not have a name, but it should.

Shochu is a type of Japanese liquor, stronger than sake, and made from either rice, barley or sweet potato, or a combination of two of the three. The Iichiko shochu I used is brewed with barley, and is considerably smoother than shochu made with rice. There is at least one traditional cocktail served often in an Izakaya (Japanese pub-like establishment) that uses tea – the Oolong Hai, which is Shochu with pre-brewed oolong tea over ice, so there is some precedent for the drink I made.

One of the things I was curious about when I considered making this drink was how well and how quickly the tea would infuse into the room-temperature Shochu. I didn’t think it would infuse very fast or very effectively, and I was right, but the unfurling jasmine pearls did look pretty in the glass.

And it did taste quite good, just not as strongly flavored as I would have preferred. Tossing the tea in about three days or more before consuming is probably a good rule-of-thumb.


  1. On a trip to Taipei, I stayed in a hotel with a teashop next door, a place open late. The operator of the shop would pour expensive Scotch into his Alishan. He offered some to me, and though tempted, I declined. My doctor disallows it. Drat. Nice blog! 🙂 ~geraldo