Earl Grey Tea and Tonic

Don't drink or trying to drink less? A rich tea syrup is a great way to add flavor and body to a non-alcoholic drink, like in this citrusy Earl Grey Tea and Tonic mocktail.

Earl gray tea and tonic syrup mocktail drink
Elana Lepkowski

No-ABV (alcohol by volume) cocktails – or “mocktails,” as we often call them – are basically cocktails minus the booze. The challenge of making a memorable one is finding ingredients that can substitute for the complexity of flavor that alcohol provides.

While coffee has recently gained popularity as a mocktail element (see the ubiquitous Coffee and Tonic), tea is also an excellent way to create aromatic, caffeine-boosted libations! Earl Grey shares similar flavors with tonic water to make for a nice citrusy pairing, so it’s a useful addition to your home bar when you’re not drinking alcohol.

Earl gray bergamot tea and tonic drink
Elana Lepkowski

Why Tea Is Great for Mocktails

When one is abstaining from alcohol-based bitters and liqueurs, tea can add that necessary touch of bitterness and astringency to a non-alcoholic drink. It is also another way to add layers of flavor: steeping tea bags directly in syrup eliminates the need to add more liquid into your mocktail, which can dilute your drink further.

The Trick to a Good Mocktail

Something else to keep in mind when making a mocktail is viscosity. Alcohol has a certain weight in a drink and on your tongue. When you drink, say, a fruit juice, you know you are drinking a juice. But if you made a juice/spirit mix, while the flavor would obviously tell you it’s alcoholic, there is also a tangible difference in the way it feels in your mouth.

To replicate that experience to some degree in this mocktail, I created a rich tea syrup for a heavier mouthfeel. Giving body to the drink elevates it and makes it feel more like a cocktail and not just a simple sweetened beverage.

Bergamot earl gray mocktail drink syrup
Elana Lepkowski

Do Not Under-Steep Your Tea Syrup!

We are all used to the recommended brew times for tea, usually clocking in at four to five minutes. However, here you’re looking for concentrated flavors. A short steep time will result in a weaker flavored syrup.

Don’t worry – the longer steep time won’t make the drink too bitter. If you have loose tea, use two to three tablespoons of tea, depending on how strongly flavored your tea is. If you’ve picked up a new-to-you tea, start with two bags, and if you’d like more flavor, steep a third bag.

Earl gray tea syrup for mocktail
Elana Lepkowski

The Best Tonic Water to Use for a Tea and Tonic

There are so many tonic waters on the market right now that choosing one might seem difficult. Any basic tonic would work and still strike the right sweet and bitter notes due to the quinine.

For this drink in particular, though, I find that Fever-Tree’s Indian Tonic, with its bitter orange flavor, really complements the bergamot. Avoid the more powerfully flavored tonic waters, which can compete with the assertive citrus and floral notes of bergamot.


If Earl Grey is not a flavor you enjoy (or like my husband, it brings on a migraine), many other floral or herbal teas could work. Hibiscus, lemon verbena, or a rooibos tea would bring a complementary flavor and work with the tonic. You could also switch out the lemon here for lime or grapefruit.

Storing Your Earl Grey Syrup

Keep this syrup in an airtight container in the fridge and it will last you at least a month.

If you have leftover syrup, you can use it to glaze tea cakes or donut holes, or to sweeten a rice pudding.

More Mocktails to Enjoy

Earl Grey Tea and Tonic

Prep Time 25 mins
Syrup chill 30 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 10 drinks
Yield 1 cup syrup

If you prefer a mild-flavored mocktail that is less sweet, use only 2 tea bags in the syrup with 4 ounces of tonic water in the mocktail. The more tonic water, the less pronounced the bergamot flavor will be.

For a more robust mocktail with stronger bitter notes from the tea and the tonic, use 3 tea bags and 3 ounces of tonic water. If this is too sweet, add in an additional 1/2 ounce of tonic water.


For the Earl Grey (Bergamot) Tea Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 2 to 3 Earl Grey tea bags

For the mocktail

  • 3/4 ounce Earl Grey (Bergamot) Tea Syrup

  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 3 to 4 ounces tonic water (I prefer Fever-Tree’s Indian Tonic)

  • 8 ounces crushed ice


  1. Make the Earl Grey Tea Syrup:

    Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

    Remove the tea bags and let the syrup cool for 30 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to one month.

  2. Make the mocktail:

    Fill a highball glass with crushed ice. Pour in 3/4 ounce Earl Grey Tea Syrup, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, and 3-4 ounces tonic water. Gently stir to combine and serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
86 Calories
0g Fat
22g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 86
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 2mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.