Hibiscus Green Tea Cider - Cheap easy fancy

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Upstate12866

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This is my go to recipe. Great for cheap and lazy brewers like me. I am posting the recipe after 15+ brews across several variations. If you want to try something easy and a bit different, this one is dead simple.

I add Hibiscus for some floral notes and perceived sweetness/tartness, and Green Tea for the tannins. I *think* it makes a difference in the balance, but if you use better juice than I do, you may not need it.


Ingredients:

- Apple Juice (2.5 gallon for this recipe) - store bought is fine. Look for Ascorbic Acid as the preservative--it won't harm yeast.
- 4 or 5 green tea bags (maybe 10-15g total) (I think this is a good balance of "background" tannin bitterness, the mildest hint of tea flavor, and no worries about excessive caffeine). You can add more tea, but you can get issues with a tannin, bitter aftertaste if you go too heavy. You may notice the aftertaste before you notice a strong tea flavor.
- 1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers (you can add up to a cup or I suppose even more if you want. But they are expensive and you can get by with this amount fine. Check your local Latino grocer or international market to buy these in bulk! If you can't buy in bulk, you can use 1/8 cup for a bit of color only.)
- Safale 04 English Ale Yeast or whatever yeast you like. I like ale yeasts for cider as I think they leave a good apple flavor behind.
- 1/2 cup or more of sugar - if you want more alcohol. You can add 3/4 cup or 1 cup without getting too many "hot" flavors. You can also add concentrated apple juice.

Store bought juice is usually around 1.047 (28g sugar per 240ml serving).
1.047 on its own (without any tea) will ferment down to around 1.000 for 6.2% ABV.

1/2 cup of sugar in our recipe (2.5 gal plus 1 L tea) yields around 1.046 for 6.1% ABV.
1 cup of sugar yields 1.050 for 6.5%. (1 cup sugar = .44 lb)

You can get to 7% by adding less volume of more concentrated tea rather than adding more sugar. For example, 2 cups of water for the tea divided into two rinses, along with 1 cup sugar, gives 1.052 and 7%. But I think the lighter version will have a better flavor because you are getting more from the flowers.

Start with making a tea of hibiscus and green tea. You could make a big tea of 1 liter. But I make several rounds of tea instead.

You will use the tea bags once, and the hibiscus 2 times:

1. Add boiling water to the ingredients inside a big mason jar (I have a 500ml one). Let sit 5-10 min and pour off or remove the tea materials. You are going to make tea from the hibiscus 1 more time.
2. I personally discard the green tea bags to avoid getting too much bitterness from the next round of hot water.
3. Add boiling water to make a thinner second running of only hibiscus tea. This draws more color.
4. If you are adding sugar, dissolve it (and pasteurize it) in the hot tea. Though it's not super critical if you just toss it undissolved into the fermenter.

You can drink another tea for yourself from the left over hibiscus. :D

One variation I've liked is some ginger or lemon slices added to the tea. (4 slices of a big lemon adds a perceptible amount, or one hunk of ginger). I'm sure you could add almost anything to this. If you use a significant amount of fruit (including more lemon than I suggest here) or combine apple juice with something more interesting like pear or pineapple juice, it's possible to get blobs of pectin that coagulate in the brew. You can avoid this by adding some pectic enzyme.

When the tea is done, you are basically done:
Just pour the apple juice violently into your fermenter (to oxygenate it) and add in the ruby red tea you have made. I add the tea when it is still warm/hot, but you can either wait longer, or put some liquid in the fridge beforehand if you are concerned about temperature. For reference 1 L of water at 120 degrees will raise 2.5 gallons of 70 degree water by 4.7 degrees F.

Add the yeast, close up the fermenter. I get very clean results fermenting between 62-68 degrees in my basement.

My favorite part is the yeast--it forms a very thick, jelly-like cake at the bottom of the vessel. It is hard to disrupt this blob, so you will likely get crystal clear cider right off the primary cake. Easy!

This cider ferments fast, but I recommend bottling after 2-3 weeks. My records show that I like a total turnaround time of ~30 days (including fermentation and 7-14 days to prime in the bottle). You can also choose to serve it uncarbonated as a wine.

I have also added a very light dose of artificial sweetener to a few of the latest batches. I am very cautious of weird flavors from this so I add the smallest amount I can perceive: 0.5 tsp per gallon of the Stevia in the Raw Granules (the ones that measure cup for cup like sugar). I can't suggest anything beyond what I've successfully tried across a few batches. You can push further than I dare and let me know what you think.

I guarantee your friends will like this!
 
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