I don’t like throwing things out, particularly foodstuffs. So when I found myself with a partly used box of fruit-flavoured teabags that nobody in the family liked, I looked around for a way of using the damn things up, other than feeding them to the hydrangeas.
It is assumed you are familiar with home wine/mead making and have the necessary equipment.
Ingredients for 5 litres
- 1.2 kg honey minimum (gives a dry to semi-sweet result. You may prefer sweet, in which case it’s 1.5 kg)
- 16 fruit teabags (these were mango, passionfruit and orange)
NB: use tea with bits of real fruit in it
- juice of one lemon, or equivalent measure of citric acid
- 1 litre pure grape juice (yes, for the pedants, this means we’re making Pyment); I used white.
- yeast nutrient
- GP wine yeast (Make sure it’s not high-alcohol. Mine apparently was. Boy, this stuff is evil)
- Up to 4 litres water
Please note that tea already contains plenty of tannin, there’s no need to add more. Pectolase, which destroys pectin, isn’t necessary if you’re using ingredients that require the addition of an apple core when using them for jam. Lemon contains pectin, and as the teabags also contain pieces of fruit I preferred to play safe.
In a mashing bucket, make tea with the tea bags and 2 litres water. Dissolve the honey in another litre of water which you should bring to the boil, very thoroughly removing any scum that rises to the surface. This is important.
Allow both mixtures to cool to around blood heat, remove the teabags, then mix the tea, dissolved honey and lemon juice together. Pour into a demijohn for fermenting, add grape juice, leaving the usual space for frothing. Add pectolase, wait two hours for it to act, then add the yeast and nutrient, and fit an airlock.
After 2-3 days the initial excitement has died down, so add the rest of the grape juice and/or top up with cooled boiled water. Allow to ferment out.
When fermentation is finished and the must has begun to clear: rack, add a Campden tablet, and leave to clear completely. Rack again and bottle.
Hmm. One of those odd things that you keep tasting to decide whether you like it or not. I don’t like cold tea in any form, but this isn’t harsh the way cold/iced tea is. Definitely smooth. Admittedly it doesn’t quite have the body of a “real” wine, however it is quite pleasant as an aperitif and clears the palate nicely after something sweet, so I’d also suggest it for accompanying the dessert. Particularly if the dessert is stollen, a German Christmas cake which makes dear old Christmas Pud seem light and fluffy. Of course, it gets a lot colder on the Continent…
All in all: not bad, and laughably easy to make.
After tastings by various friends-and-relatives, a new batch has been planned for next winter.