I became a member of this site in May of this year, hoping to find someone with a twisted tea recipe. I make homemade concord grape wine every year and I thought it would be fun to experiment with new things.
I posted in May sometime hoping to find someone with a recipe but no luck. I figured I'd move on and try it on my own. Remind you, I'm an amateur homebrewer and I knew very little about it. But I did a lot of research to develop a recipe and came up with multiple experiments.
Snce it has been almost 5 months of experimentation I almost want to give up since I can't come up with any conclusions. So, as you can see I decided to go back to the homebrew forum to see if there was anything available for Twisted Tea Recipes. I came across these threads and read through each of them realizing I encountered similar problems just like you two.
The biggest problem I've encountered is the lack of tea flavor upon completion of the fermentation. To try to resolve this problem I tried 4 types of experiments:
1) increase the quantity of tea bags, before fermentation, and steep just enough before the tea becomes too tannic
2) over steep the tea bags
3) cook up some tea concentrate and apply it to the secondary fermentation
4) switch type of yeast (champagne, wine, ale); I haven't tried lager or cider yeast yet
5) The last batch aged for 2 months, longer than the other experiments, and there was very little tea flavor even after the secondary fermentation
6) changed the kind of sugar
I made sure the temperature was right for the different yeasts and I even tried the secondary fermentation both inside and outside of the refrigerator. I tried fermenting with malt and hops and followed beer recipes very carefully, but I noticed a slight difference in the tea flavor after the primary fermentation. There was a little more tea flavor than normal but it gradually reduced the longer it aged. I even continued to add more tea flavor to it.
I've been trying to research tea to see if there is something in the chemical composition of tea that doesn't work well with alcohol because I know tea is an antioxidant (if that inhibits anything). I have no idea. I wonder if there is some kind of natural preservative for flavor.
So, this is where I stand right now:
Since tea is a non-fermentable there needs to be sugar added to wort or there needs to be a natural fermentable like fruit or even a malt. I wonder if that will make a significant difference in the flavor. I am about to experiment with lager yeast since I heard that it may produce a neutral yeast flavor to help accentuate the tea flavor. I also want to experiment with sorghum, molasses, or rice malt. I am also thinking about adding tea concentrate a little bit at a time during the fermentation.
As I said before I am an amateur homebrewer and if you have any ideas or tips I'd greatly appreciate it. I also hope that my observations can help you as well. I'll update you as I go along.