Infused alcohol is a cornerstone of creating tea cocktails. It allows for endless possibilities for creating something that is completely new, or simply a variation on a favorite classic. It also has the added benefit of allowing the time consuming aspect of the cocktail to be done in advance when spare time permits (‘side-work’ in industry parlance) so that at service time your tea cocktail can be made quickly and consistently.
Tea infused alcohol is quite shelf stable if it is strained thoroughly. Be sure to strain it through multiple layers of cheese cloth, tea or coffee filters, or the finest of sieves. If strained so that no particulate matter remains, whether tea leaves, spices, dried fruits, flower petals or whatever your chosen ingredients are, it will hold for weeks. This allows you to stock these infusions into your bar for easy access and further creative combinations.
When considering the ratio of leaf to alcohol, as well as the infusion time, you must consider what the desired results are. In the case of the Earl Grey infused bourbon, it is not intended to be sipped directly, and only 1/2 ounce is used in the final cocktail. For this reason, it is infused with a relatively large amount of leaf for a relatively extended period of time, so that the flavors and aromatics in that small amount used can carry through. If you are planning on an alcohol infusion to be consumed straight, or with a more significant amount used in the final drink, then you would want your infusion to be more subtle and the infusion time will most likely be measured in minutes rather than hours.
Taken to the other extreme, tea can be an excellent part of creating your own house-made bitters where only a few dashes would be used in the final recipe. Bitters, like the use of tea in cocktails in general, can allow you to balance sweetness, add complexity, bridge disparate ingredients, highlight ingredients, tease forward various botanicals and add spice and aromatics.