View Full Version : Tea VS Spices

11-17-2008, 05:22 PM
So I have seen that when using spices in meads, some people will just throw the spices into the fermenter, while others make a tea out of their spices and then they just add that.

My question is what is the benefit of making a tea (besides easier cleanup)?

Also, after you are done, what do you do with the spices, just throw them out? It seems like a bit of a waste to just heave them.

Also, how well does the tea taste carry over to the mead? For example, could you use a tea as a test to see how you mead will taste? How well do the spice blends in general carry over to meads?

I've never used any spices/herbs before but I plan to in a cyser that I want to make soon.

11-18-2008, 06:55 PM
i've made several meads by just throwing all the spices into the fermenter, and i've only made one that by doing the tea method.
pros for making the herbs into a tea first: easy clean-up, and no loss of mead when you bottle (or rack into a bulk ager).
negatives: may lose some of the essences of the herbs by not leaving them in contact as long. some herbs like juniper, cardamom, peppercorns, ginseng, etc. will impart more intense flavors if they are actually fermented with the must.
remember, you can put them in a bag first, so clean-up is easier.

11-18-2008, 08:28 PM
This is not a simple question to answer, but a good question to ask 8)

Spices soaking in the must integrate better, are more complex in flavour, but you have to balance the amount, whether they are ground up or whole, and the amount of time you leave them in the must.
Also, different flavours are extracted from soaking in a must at room temperature while the fermentation is going on, or after fermentation when the alcohol content is ??%, as opposed to extracting flavours from heating/boiling or from making a cordial or ....

Making a tea is easier for recipe design, because the tea becomes a "fixed" quantity that you are adding, or you add the tea until you reach the desired taste.
So at the start of your fermentation, you have "fixed" the flavour, which just "matures" with time.
The negative is it can be more one-dimensional, not as complex.

So you have a easy versus hard, simple versus complex sort of comparison.
But that doesn't mean a mead made with spice "tea" won't be good.

You have to make your own decision as to what you want to accomplish.

Medsen Fey
11-18-2008, 08:49 PM
And if that doesn't give you enough decisions to wrestle with, you can mix'n match. You can make a tea and add to the primary or secondary, and if you want more, you can add spices directly later in the process as it is aging (or vice versa).

11-18-2008, 10:50 PM
interesting, thanks for the info, I will take all this into considering when making my winter cyser next week, but that is a lot to consider... hmm...

11-23-2008, 04:57 AM
Having read this thread, it's got me thinking about which method might be best......

I don't know.

What I do know, is that different herbs and/or spices, well the flavouring part/aromatics etc will alter their flavour depending on many things.

For instance, is the herb/spice, or the aromatic/flavouring part/oil/whatever one that will allow the extraction of flavour/aroma better in water or in alcohol?

Still not got me there ? Ok, l'll use chilli pepper as an example.

So you eat something, or cover it with sauce or whatever.....and your mouth starts to burn.

You reach for that glass of water or beer as it's nice and cold and take a large swig. Aaaarrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhh! That makes it seem even worse.

But why?

Because the capsaicin in the chilli is a "fatty alkaloid", what you experienced when you took that swig of water/beer was the "oil on water" effect.

Because the capsaicin being a fatty alkaloid, you'd need to either use butter, high fat cream or alcohol/spirits to relieve the burning sensation.

The butter or cream helps dilute the capsaicin or the alcohol to dissolve it.

See what I mean? If the spice/herb is one where the flavouring/aroma element of it is one that naturally is oily/fatty then surely you won't get the depth of flavour. Whereas if it's one where the flavouring/aroma is carried in the water element, then you will get the flavour/aroma by making the infusion (sorry I won't call it a "tea", because tea is tea and not any kind of hot, water infused, herb/fruit flavoured drink.....).

So, I'm guessing that it would surely be a better idea to crush or grind the herb or spice to something like the consistency of coffee grinds and either add it to the fermenter or into the finished ferment. As the water element would/should dissolve the (water based) flavour/aroma element or the alcohol would dissolve the (oil/fat based) flavour/aroma element.

Giving the correct level/depth of flavour. Or that's what the elementary level science tells me anyway.

Plus, I'd guess that unless you have a way of calculating what strength of the flavour/aroma element any given herb/spice has, then it's got to be a little "hit or miss" as to how much you'd use......

My only other thought would be that it's better to use too little, than too much......you can add more if the taste isn't strong enough, but you can't take it out if it's too strong........Joe Mattiolli's comment about cloves in the JAO recipe being point in fact here.

I hope that doesn't confuse the issue here. I just don't recall ever seeing any list of which herbs/spices are normally "extracted" in which way.....