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Food & Drink » Beer & Drink

A Little Tea With Your Liquor?

Townshend's line of tea-infused spirits

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Townshend's Teahouse has been a fixture of Bend for eight years now, rocking it on Bond Street with a mix of teas, kombucha, and comfortable sofas. What some may not know about them, however, is that it also has a distillery.

Thomas & Sons Distillery is the name of Townshend's spirits project, officially launched in northeast Portland last summer. It's specialty: tea-infused liqueurs, with a choice of flavors.

No. 2 Sweet Tea was the first. Its light, sweet flavor suitable for things like juleps and old-fashioneds. It's since been joined by No. 16 Spice Tea (a hot blend of Yunnan black tea, ginger root, cinnamon and more), No. 5 Smoke Tea (pine-smoked with vanilla beans and blackberry honey added), and No. 50 Bitter Tea (a mix of strong Assam tea with mint, black pepper, and nutmeg).

They're all around 70 to 80 proof, and each one has its own strengths. The Spice Tea's Earl Grey roots make it good with anything served warm, like mulled wine or a hot toddy for those chillier nights. The Smoke Tea, which Thomas & Sons calls a "campfire in a bottle" (and they ain't kidding), has a flavor profile that hovers somewhere between mezcal and scotch, making it good both for basic booze-'n-Coke mix and as a secret weapon for jazzing up more complex cocktails. The bitter tea, meanwhile, is more like an Italian-style fernet or amaro, enjoyable neat as a digestif or eminently deployable in sours or other recipes. (Thomas also sells Bluebird, a sweet and complex "alpine liqueur" that's its first winter warmer.)

The whole line's available now for $25 to $30 a bottle. Give it a try at a local bar, or when next in the big city, hit up Thomas & Sons' tasting room, nestled in Portland's east side among seven other craft distilleries.

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