Nepali Spiced Tea Mead

Okay, it’s actually a Metheglin.

When I was introduced to meads, it was big polish meads, like Slowianski and Kasztelanski, sweet and powerful (in both taste and alcohol content). This is my first attempt at brewing something in the same style. The spices I got from a spiced tea recipe from Nepal in a world cookbook called Extending the Table, and I just changed a little around. Making a tea with the spices and flavors that you’re planning to brew with is a great way to prototype new meads. Anyway, here’s the recipe for a gallon:

  • 4 lbs Honey
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 Tbs Cardamom, coarse ground
  • 10 bags Black Tea
  • Water to make 1 gallon
  • Brandy (for bottling)

Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil, and stir in the honey and brown sugar. Keep it boiling for 10 minutes, stirring. Skim off any honey foam that rises to the top. Add all the spices (I just used ground kitchen spices for everything except the cardamom, I used some Brewer’s Garden from my local homebrew store) and the tea, and continue at a low boil for another 5 minutes. Cool it down, dump it into a sanitized primary, and pitch with Premier Cuvee yeast. My original gravity was 1.153.

Rack four times, every month. After the first racking, I added another bag of black tea to the secondary carboy. When you’re ready to bottle, stabilize, and add one shot of unflavored brandy to each 12 oz bottle, or two for each 750. Bottle and let it age for at least 6 months. Final gravity was 1.030, giving around 16.5% abv, before fortification. I have a feeling that this will age very, very well, but I don’t think any of my first batch will make it a year. Solution: brew a bigger batch next year!

Update 2009-06-24: Cracked open my last bottle a couple weeks ago, and it had turned into the best mead I’ve made in my years of brewing, and one of the best I’ve tried in general. It’s only one and a half years old now, I can’t wait to see what a really well aged version is like – brewing 5 gallons of this recipe for St. Bartholomew’s day this year so I’ll have enough to cellar.

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