The South African Rooibos (pronounced “Roy-bus”), or “red bush” plant produces needle-like leaves that have been used for tea by the indigenous people of South Africa for centuries. This “red tea” has a unique, naturally sweet taste with hints of toffee, cherry and vanilla. The tea’s natural tannic properties moderate the sweetness of the honey that makes up this spiced mead. In many languages, chai is the word for tea, but in many Western languages the word “Chai” has been used to refer to black tea steeped with a mixture of aromatic indian spices such as ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, and cloves.
This mead recipe combines the traditional South African Rooibos tea with the South Asian spicing techniques to create a delightful sweet mead. It is a cold weather mead that pairs nicely with red meat, berries, and holiday desserts.
Recipe Yields 2 gallons
- 9 Cups Honey (6.75 lbs)
- 4 Tsp Rooibos Tea
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 1 tsp Ground Ginger
- 6 Cloves
- 6 Cardamon Seeds
- 1 oz Cascade Pellet Hops
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
- 2.5 g Wine Yeast (Red Star Cote des Blancs)
- In a medium brew pot (4 gallon) bring 2 gallons of water to a simmer.
- Slowly add the honey while stirring continuously so the honey dissolves without burning on the bottom of the pot.
- Bring the must back to a simmer while letting all the honey dissolve. Add the hop pellets, Cardamon Seeds, Cloves, Ginger and Cinnamon Sticks contained in a muslin bag.
- Simmer for 20 minutes while preparing the tea and continually skim any white foamy scum that forms on the surface.
- To prepare the tea, bring 16 oz of water to a boil, and remove from heat. Add the Rooibos and let steep for 3 minutes.
- Strain the tea and add to the brew pot along with the Vanilla and Yeast Nutrient.
- Submerge the brew pot in an ice bath, or cool through a worth chiller to bring the must to around 70 degrees.
- Add the must to a 3 gallon carboy, aerate, and pitch the yeast. Make sure you re-hydrate dry yeast before pitching.
- Seal carboy with bung and airlock and store in a dark place at a temperature of about 70 degrees.
- After 3 weeks, with a siphon, re-rack the mead into two sanitized 1 gallon jugs.
- After 2 weeks, re-rack, then let age for 6 months.
- Serve chilled, and enjoy!