View Full Version : Grape tannin with spice tea mead

The Red Lion
03-04-2007, 05:32 PM
What if I wanted to add a spiced tea to my mead for a spiced mead before bottling. Is it best not to do so if I had already added grape tannin?

The Red Lion

03-04-2007, 05:58 PM
Does your mead have a strong tannin presence/flavor already? If so, you can still add tea, but make sure not to oversteep, which will pull a lot more tannins out of the tea. Steeping for only 2-3 minutes should give you only a little tannin in the tea.

The Red Lion
03-06-2007, 05:06 PM
I have'nt tasted it yet, Thanks for the advice for steeping. I did'nt even think about pulling out more tannins by steeping the tea too long.


The Red LIon

03-07-2007, 12:19 PM
Hey, Red Lion,

Glad to see you working with tea. It is a wonderful addition to meads, in my opinion!

A couple of general thoughts on tea:

It is tempting to brew tea LONGER to make it STRONGER. This way lies PERIL. You can draw out some bad/bitter/off flavors from the tea.

To make a stronger tea, add more tea to the hot water. Don't brew it longer than suggested on the box (usually 3 to 5 minutes). Don't boil tea unless it is a bark or seed. For leaves you can use the water right off the boil, usually. For flower teas, you want to take the water off the boil and count to 30, then add the slightly less hot water to the tea.

Various big controversies about add water to the tea or add tea to the water. I go the first way mostly 'cause I like to see the splash. My palate is not that delicate to be able to tell the diff.

When I make a strong tea (like I use to brew with), the tea is measured in the cupfuls. I generally use 2 or 3 cups of tea in a big bowl. I add water until it is a loose mixture, generally 4 or 5 cups. Let it do it's steep for the 3 to 5 minutes. Then I strain out the leaves into a clean measuring cup. Most of the time I then squeeze the tea leaves (with gloved hand, please!), but into another container. I taste the squeezings to make sure they taste like the first pour. If they are bitter or dirty, I discard and repeat until I get enough tea for my mead. Most of the time the squeezings are just fine, but I am cautious.

RL, why are you wanting to add grape tannin to your mead? What effect do you see the grape tannin bringing to your mead? Why just before bottling? How long are you thinking of bottle conditioning?

All the best,

The Red Lion
03-07-2007, 04:15 PM

Thanks for the information on brewing tea. When you say you use 2 or 3 cupfuls of tea for a strong tea, is that for a 5 gallon batch of mead?

I am thinking of using a chai tea for my first tea mead.

From what I understand from the information on grape tannin is that it would help clarify my mead since I use the "No Heat Mead" method and the mead does'nt seem to clarify with time or cold shocking. I have never used the other clarifying agents before but from the sounds of them they don't seem that appealing to me.

Ken Schramm mentioned something about "naked meadmaking" in his book. I like the idea of making plain straight meads and then adding spices, teas, juices or any other additives to taste after fermentation. This way I can add these this in smaller quanities without risking an entire batch.

The Red Lion

03-07-2007, 05:12 PM

So you added the grape tannin in the beginning of fermentation and now want to add more tea? I missread and thought you wanted to add the tannin now right before bottling. That, I wouldn't do. Adding tea, sure, why not? If you need/want the flavor boost, I'd say fine. But check the flavor first with a sample of your mead and add a bit more tea. Also, then make sure to let it sit for a month or more so that if you kick up more fermentation or more settling occurs, it happens in the carboy and not the bottle.

Sometimes multiple rackings helps clear a stubborn haze. Have you tried that? How long have you been waiting for your mead to clear?

I see the addition of flavors in the final stages as an "infusion". I am a fan of infusion. I find you get a more clear true flavor. But in discussion with Oskaar, he likes the complexity of adding flavors, especially fruits in both first and second stages. The infusion of flavors is where the solvents water and alcohol disolve soluable componants that we percieve as flavor. Fermentation changes and evolves the flavor componants in unpredictable ways.

I keep going back to grape juice fermented evolves into flavors that we percieve as cassis, flint, butter, etc. None of which are added to the wine, but the fermention and age acts upon the grape juice to create those delicate flavors. Which are also a function of aging. And the terrior (spelling?), the land from which the grapes comes.

So back to you tea question: yes, I make 5 gallon batches, generally. BTW, I have added herbal tea to mead at various times and have had good effect. I added a strong water infusion to the mead in primary, secondary, and bulk aging. The herbal flavor doesn't seem to drift much, unlike fruit flavors, IMO.

Chai tea can make a fine mead. One way is a direct infusion of the spices in the secondary rather than a tea. Direct infusion in secondary will allow you to rack off the spices when the flavor is "just right plus a smidge". I also believe that the antifungal properties of spices can inhibit the vigourous initial fermentation.

I made chai mead where I used whole spices that I cracked and boiled (mostly roots and seeds) then added the tea to the mead in secondary. I also boosted the flavor with more tea and whole spices later on after my third rack and during the bulk aging.

Cinnamon can be tricky. Do a search on cinnamon and read up about it on the board. It really depends on what you are using what kind of flavor it imparts. Cinnamon also tends to take a while to blend back into the flavor profile. I have had it overpower the other spices for quite a while before finally stepping back in line.

I suggest getting the flavor balance right by brewing a lot of tea until you get a flavor profile you like. If you want to do a direct infusion into the mead, you can also do a tincture with the spices and vodka for a couple of weeks to get an even better idea of what flavors will be drawn out by both alcohol and water. While water and alcohol can mix together without any problems, there are certain things which are soluable in water and not alcohol and vice versa. So the flavors that will be extracted into mead will be different than a water infusion like tea.

Or you can solve that problem and add the water infusion to the mead. Done both for different effects.

Been too busy in the studio to brew and I have been thinking a lot.


The Red Lion
03-07-2007, 07:11 PM

Sorry for any confusion,

OK... I have 6 beer kegs full of straight plain mead. Two of the Kegs have 10 gallons each with a gravity reading of 1.088 when I made the must. I added grape tannin to one of the kegs while still fermenting in the primary but have not added any tea yet

Four of the kegs have about 12.5 or more gallons each. The gravity of the must at the beginning was at 1.130 for a sweeter mead. I used White Labs Sweet mead yeast. They are all bubbling away.

I have not added any tea to any of them yet. I was going to add some chai tea to one of the kegs when fermentation slows down or stops and when I rack into secondary. This will be the first time adding tea to one of my meads.

I have never used grape tannin before either but after reading the post by Jmattioli titled The Value Of Tannin
and how it can aid in clearing a mead has grabbed my interest. I have not used any of the other clarifying agents
out there before but they are not very appealing after much reading about them. I would prefer to use something with a little more appeal such as grape tannin or tea tannin for clarifying.

I like the idea of an infusion, When racking off the herbs/spices, would'nt that be harder to rack off than putting them into a cheese cloth as a giant tea bag?

Have you added the herbal alcohol tincture right into the mead itself? I have thought about this especially with vodka since it has water and alcohol in it, I guess I could infuse the herbs into a bottle of finished fermented straight mead for a couple of weeks and then add to a lager batch until I get the desired flavor?

You have gave me
a LOT to think about, I appriciate your imput very much.
Thank you!

The Red Lion

03-07-2007, 11:15 PM

I am totally intimidated by the scale at which you work. :confused3:

You can put the herbs/spices in a giant tea bag, no worries. I brew in 5 gallon carboys with small openings so a tea bag isn't workable. I do wrap the bottom of my racking cane in nylon net as a rough filter to keep various chunky bits out.

One of my local brew buddies makes root beer with vodka tinctures of various roots, barks, and whatnot and uses them to really dial in the flavors he likes. I think this is a cool idea but haven't explored it personally in any depth.

hmm, I guess you could use a seperate batch of fully fermented mead as the menstrum (the liquid used to make a tincture) rather than vodka. *head tilts to side, mouth makes quirky shape* I'd make sure the mead is pretty high ABV to discourage contamination.

Good luck with your mead. Sounds like you aren't anywhere near where you need to be thinking about whether you have a problem with the mead clearing. You have weeks of fermenting ahead of you!

Keep the board up to date on what you end up doing.


The Red Lion
03-08-2007, 03:26 PM

Don't be intimidated, That is how I was introduced to making mead and now it is hard for me to scale down to 5 gallon batches. My freind got me a good deal on 13 kegs a couple of years ago and now I am determined to make myself the best mead I possibly can.

Now you really got me intrigued with the alcohol tinctures for flavoring. To me it seems that this would be the easiest way to have maximum control, the only thing is keeping the alcohol from the vodka to a minimum in the mead. Then again Alcoholic vanilla extracts are really potent and even though I have not used this in my mead yet I would think it would not take very much anyway to be concerned.

My last batch of 80 gallons with the no heat method did not ever clear and that was over 10 months ago. That is why I am trying to plan ahead now and trying to decide if I should filter the haze out if it comes to that or use a clarifying agent. The thing that I do not like about the clarifying agents is worring that some of it will stay in my mead when racking it off. If filtering doese'nt do that much damage then that would be the most practical way and most appealing to me I would think.

My very first 60 gallon batch of mead was boiled and cleared on its own. Now that I have tasted the boil and no heat meads the no heat method blows away the boiling method in taste in my opinion.

The Red Lion

03-08-2007, 06:38 PM
The thing that I do not like about the clarifying agents is worring that some of it will stay in my mead when racking it off. If filtering doese'nt do that much damage then that would be the most practical way and most appealing to me I would think.

No experience myself, but from what has been said on the forum and elsewhere,

"to avoid clogging your filter, clarify first".

The Red Lion
03-08-2007, 06:50 PM
From what I understand it sounds like sparkolloid is one of the best Clarifying agents.

If I was to filter the mead after clarifying with sparkolloid and I was going to add an alcohol extract would it be better to add the extract after filtering?

Does anyone know offhand what would be the ideal filter setup and which filters to use and keep on hand?

Thanks again,
The Red Lion

03-10-2007, 05:53 PM
Hey RL - I'm totally new at this, but as an experiment, we did a 1 gal batch and added 500 ml of rooibos tea (3 bags steeped 5 min) and it finished fermenting and cleared in like 3.5 weeks. We just racked it onto some oak today, but it's already very yummy.

My suspicion is that rooibos is rich in nutrients and therefore sped up the process - anyone have ideas on that theory? And...what is it about tannin and spiced tea that helps clarify mead?

03-16-2007, 06:05 PM
Well I'm no expert either, but my batch with roobis tea was a slow starter. 6 weeks in primary and it wasn't even close to clear, but I racked it onto some more tea and it cleared up quickly (couple of days). Not sure if it was the tea, racking, or the combo that cleared it so quickly.

Tannins are supposed to help with clarification. I think they stick to things, making small molecules bigger. Bigger particles settle faster. Though there's probably more to it than that...