Green tea "Fauxito": A healthier take on the classic mojito (recipe)

My advice is to avoid using green tea with other added flavors (orange, berry, etc.) the first time you make this cocktail, just to have a reference of what it's supposed to taste like with pure green tea. I find that the added flavors seem to muddy the drink. You might want to make a double strength batch of green tea so its taste won't be watered down by the liquor and melting ice. Alternately, for a more subtle hint of the green tea, brew it according to the package directions. Hey, it's your drink, so experiment away -- I'm just providing a starting point.

Green Tea "Fauxito"

Makes one cocktail

5-7 mint leaves

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons agave nectar (more or less, depending on your taste)

Ice, as needed

2 ounces vodka

6 ounces unsweetened brewed green tea, chilled

Mint sprig for garnish (optional)

1. Tear mint leaves and put them into a tall glass (highball or Collins). Mash them into the bottom of the glass with a spoon, giving the leaves a good bruising.

2. Add the lemon juice and agave nectar, and give them a good stir with the spoon.

3. Fill the glass half full with cubed ice (crushed ice melts too quickly).

4. Pour the vodka and green tea over the ice. If you have any tea left over, it's no big deal -- just save it in case you need to water down the vodka. Garnish with mint and enjoy.

Alternately, you could also make this straight up by doing the muddling and mixing in a cocktail shaker and straining it into a martini glass.

There are an infinite number flavored liquors on the market nowadays to suit every palate: from your run-of-the-mill berry and vanilla flavors to the more exotic, like acai and pomegranate, and even ones that are disguised as non-alcoholic beverages many of us consume regularly, like coffee and tea. But why mask the taste of the liquor with (usually fake) flavorings? Why not use flavor infusions from the actual source?

For instance, there are a number of green tea flavored vodkas out there, but by brewing real green tea and using it as your mixer, you'll get a more authentic essence of green tea while also reaping the health benefits. According to WebMD, green tea has important antioxidants and compounds that can aid in good health.

"Green tea's antioxidants, called catechins, scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, and atherosclerosis. ...Green tea and its extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL 'bad' cholesterol — two risk factors for heart disease and diabetes."

Basically, using freshly brewed green tea in a cocktail is a win-win situation: You're consuming healthy antioxidants while getting a nice buzz.

For a light and refreshing cocktail with all the added benefits of the green tea, try this take on a Cuban mojito, which uses vodka instead of rum, but keeps the muddled fresh mint and citrus components. I used agave nectar instead of sugar in this recipe to keep with the more wholesome take on the cocktail (which I realize sounds like an oxymoron), as agave nectar is a healthier substitute for processed sugar and has a low glycemic index. But, yes, it's another bastardization of the mojito, which is why I'm calling it a "fauxito" (fo-HEE-toe) as to not upset fans of the classic cocktail.

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