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Mead with Dehydrated Fruit/Herbs?

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The Experimenter

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I've made mead a couple of times before, and while I love it I've always thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a little something extra. Then, just a few days ago, I bought a bag of Tealyra loose tea and was impressed by the flavor and immediately thought of putting it in a mead (I actually bought it with the intent of using it in brewing, but didn't know what kind of brew I should do... mead was the first thing to come to mind upon tasting it).

The type of "tea" I am talking about is not actually tea in the sense that it does not contain tea (camellia sinensis) leaves. Instead, it is a bunch of dehydrated fruits and herbs (no actual tea and no preservatives as far as I can tell). The specific one that I tried that made me want to put it in a mead is Tealyra's "Strawberry Orange Sunrise", which actually contains (in the order found on the ingredients list) Apple bits, hibiscus blossom, lemongrass, orange wedges, natural flavorings, strawberry bits, and tartaric acid. An image of the bag and what the loose mixture looks like can be found below. Also, here's the link to the product on their website: Strawberry Orange Sunrise - Fruity - Loose Tea - Tea Store The flavor is awesome and I feel like it would be really nice with the honey flavors, but the tea also gives a very vibrant reddish/magenta hue to the water when I make tea with it, which I think would also look really cool in the brew.

I've considered making a melomel and/or metheglin for a while now, but I don't really live in an area with a lot of good natural options near me (no apple orchards to go and pick your own at, no farmer's markets for fresh fruit right off the stand, etc.) and very little selection of good fruits and herbs in my local grocery store. So when I saw this "tea" composed of dehydrated fruit and herbs already mixed in proportions meant to produce pleasurable flavors, I couldn't help but wonder if it would work...

Anyway, these are my questions:

  1. Good idea or bad idea?
    • Will this work as well as I am imagining it will or will it taste weird (or possibly just not work at all)? CAN this work at all or should I just use fresh fruit, even if I have to drive a ways to find quality stuff?
  2. How much should I use?
    • The bag of loose tea says 1 to 1-1/2 Tsp per 8oz of hot water. It's actually a pretty powerful flavor and I'm more so thinking that I want this tea to be more of a subdued background flavor, so... 1/2 tsp per 8oz of must (8 tsp per gallon)? Or 1/4 tsp (4 tsp per gallon)? Or should I go with even less... or maybe more? I really don't know how much to do.
  3. How should I use it?
    • Again, I've never made a melomel/metheglin, so I'm not sure how this works. Do I just add the dehydrated fruit/herbs to the fermenter during primary and/or secondary and let them mingle with the must directly during fermentation?
    • Or should I make an infusion with it prior to brewing and then add the infusion to the must (no pieces of fruit/herbs in the fermenter)?
  4. Melomel or Metheglin?
    • If it has fruit (apples, orange, and strawberry) AND traditional medicinal herbs (lemongrass and hibiscus), what do you call it? "Meloglin"? "Methemel"?

Thanks for any help. I really don't know what I'm doing, but I really wanna try to make a mead with this fruit/herb tea.
 

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AkTom

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Sounds like you need to do 2 simultaneously. One with tea in primary. Second with tea after primary. I’d think... adding in secondary would give better flavor.
Keep us updated please. And send me a bottle of each.
Cheers
 

CKuhns

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Sounds interesting... Great idea!!!

Option 1.
I would consider steaping the tea in some water (make a strong tea.) let it cool and mix a small amount with a small amount of honey and if needed a small amount of water.

In esssence do a small batch volumetric experiment. Taste along the way until you hit the profile you like record or remember the volumes and use those for your batch.

The challenge / unknown is what will the ferment do to the flavors?

Option 2 (my personal preference)
At secondary drop the tea right in using a fine mesh bag and "cold brew" it until you hit the flavor you like.

With tea i have added as much as double what you would if you were to steep it in hot water. ( i cant speak to this particular tea, no experience with it.)

Call it Delicious if it turns out well or an Experiment if not. :cool: (No opinon on what to name it...)
 

wildmazer

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my usual process for tea-like things in meads is to make a strong tea ( hot water, the normal deal) and use that as the ‘water’ to make the initial must. then at racking time a little taste to see if it seems strong enough or if i need more for secondary. this works great for true teas and various herbs/spices/twigs etc.

i assume if you enjoy the tea, the amount of tartaric acid isn’t going to be high enough to impede fermentation.

(strong tea will lose a lot of its oomph as it turns into mead - i wouldn’t start too low)
 
OP
The Experimenter

The Experimenter

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Thanks for all the responses. I guess I'll just have to experiment (as my username suggests, I like to do so anyway) and try different things.

As CKuhns suggested, I'll probably do small volumetric experiments rather than jumping the gun and going straight to my big fermenters. Based on all the different suggestions you guys made, I'll probably do 4 half gallon experimental batches. I'll do one of regular mead (as a control), one in which the must was made by steeping the tea from the start, one in which the dry tea pieces are added to primary, and finally one in which the dry tea pieces are added to secondary.
 

wasully

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i assume if you enjoy the tea, the amount of tartaric acid isn’t going to be high enough to impede fermentation.
Given the amount some grapes have(and ferment just fine), I'd be super impressed at a tea with enough acid to impede fermentation.
 

bernardsmith

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This sounds like a great project. Whatever amount of tea you decide to use does not mean that you are locked in. If when push comes to shove you think that the flavor is not sufficiently intense you can simply add more tea to the secondary and allow the alcohol to extract the flavor. Frequent tasting will enable you to rack the mead off the fruit at the optimal time.
On the other hand if you taste the mead and determine that the flavor is too intense you can simply add more must (honey and water to dilute the flavor by increasing the volume. There should be sufficient yeast in the mead to continue fermenting the added sugars.
 
OP
The Experimenter

The Experimenter

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...Whatever amount of tea you decide to use does not mean that you are locked in. If when push comes to shove you think that the flavor is not sufficiently intense you can simply add more tea to the secondary...
I have a question about this comment that you made. I'm fairly new to brewing and so there are still some things I haven't figured out yet... for example, I have heard comments like the one you just made in which people talk about adding more liquid during the brew (you mentioned adding it during secondary, but I've heard people talk about adding things only a few days in); but doesn't this mess with the gravity of the must and make it more difficult to get an accurate hydrometer reading? I mean, if I have a mead and it measures at a specific starting gravity but then halfway through the brew I add additional tea (which would probably read close to 1.000 because aside from some very minute fruit particles, there's not much dissolved in), then doesn't that dilute the must and lower its gravity more than just the fermenting process would have by that point in the brew?

Is there some sort of equation or something to make sure my hydrometer readings are accurate if I'm adding more liquid to the must after my initial reading has already been taken but before fermentation is completely finished?
 
OP
The Experimenter

The Experimenter

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Please keep us posted on your results. I have a few herbal teas that may make interesting meads as well.
I'll try my best. I have to get all my resources and materials together first. Still need to find the right honey for this (which is a little tricky at this time of the year where I am). I might just go to the grocery store and grab a bunch of the biggest bottles they got of all natural store bought honey since the point of this experiment would be to see the differences between the 4 different methods, rather than trying to get a good honey flavor. I also need the fermenters (I have two half-gallon bottles I can use, but I need to find two more). All things considered, I probably won't be starting this little experiment for another week or two. But I will keep you guys posted once I do get it going.
 

bernardsmith

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I am sure that a mathematician might create an equation but the basis for calculating the "Starting Gravity" is simply to know the TOTAL volume and the total amount of sugar. Use 1 lb of sugar to make 1 US gallon = 1.040 , so 3 lbs in that same volume is 3x .040 and so, 1.120. If you increase the volume without adding more sugar then use simple arithmetic to calculate the calculated gravity (1 lb of sugar to make 2 US gallons gives you a gravity of 1.020. So, all you need to know is the total volume and the total amount of sugar. Honey has some water and so is less dense per lb than sugar when dissolved to make 1 US gallon. I think the rule of thumb is that 1 lb of honey raises the gravity of that 1 gallon to 1.035.
 
OP
The Experimenter

The Experimenter

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I am sure that a mathematician might create an equation but the basis for calculating the "Starting Gravity" is simply to know the TOTAL volume and the total amount of sugar. Use 1 lb of sugar to make 1 US gallon = 1.040 , so 3 lbs in that same volume is 3x .040 and so, 1.120. If you increase the volume without adding more sugar then use simple arithmetic to calculate the calculated gravity (1 lb of sugar to make 2 US gallons gives you a gravity of 1.020. So, all you need to know is the total volume and the total amount of sugar. Honey has some water and so is less dense per lb than sugar when dissolved to make 1 US gallon. I think the rule of thumb is that 1 lb of honey raises the gravity of that 1 gallon to 1.035.
Yeah, I get the math for calculating Starting Gravity and understand how changes in volume can affect the gravity at the start of the brew. What I was asking is how to adjust my readings if adding liquid after a brew has already started but before it has finished. Let's say I start 1 gallon of mead with tea that has a Starting Gravity of 1.110 but after two weeks I test it and it reads 1.072 and while testing it I taste it and realize the tea flavor isn't strong enough. Let's say I add more tea to it at this point, DURING fermentation after it has already dropped a couple dozen points but hasn't finished fermenting and still has a way to go. So it started at 1.110, dropped to 1.072 (but is still fermenting), and then I add more liquid at that point (which in theory immediately drops the gravity further, but not from fermentation, from dilution). How does adding volume at this point change how I should do my readings going forward?

So far, adding volume DURING fermentation is something I have avoided because I'm afraid I wouldn't adjust my readings correctly, but it is something I've heard people talk about and I am curious to know how people do it.

If you don't understand what I'm asking it's fine, I apologize. I know I'm probably not explaining it in the right language and terminology.
 

bernardsmith

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Your concern is reasonable but in fact the problem does not exist. Basically, in the first instance, you ignore where you are in the process and simply determine the TOTAL amount of sugar in the TOTAL amount of liquid. Ultimately, you want the FINAL gravity to be around 1.000 even if you started with 1 gallon and ended with 6 gallons and you started with 1 lbs of sugar and ended with 12 lbs. Nominally, that new "starting gravity" would have been raised from 1.040 to 1.080 the ABV would be calculated by subtracting the final gravity from the starting gravity and multiplying that number by 131.25. The IMPORTANT figure is knowing the nominal starting gravity (Total weight of sugar or honey) divided by the total volume (of honey or sugar and water), multiplied by the gravity of the fermnetable: sugar .040 ; or honey .035.

Does that help?
 
OP
The Experimenter

The Experimenter

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Your concern is reasonable but in fact the problem does not exist. Basically, in the first instance, you ignore where you are in the process and simply determine the TOTAL amount of sugar in the TOTAL amount of liquid. Ultimately, you want the FINAL gravity to be around 1.000 even if you started with 1 gallon and ended with 6 gallons and you started with 1 lbs of sugar and ended with 12 lbs. Nominally, that new "starting gravity" would have been raised from 1.040 to 1.080 the ABV would be calculated by subtracting the final gravity from the starting gravity and multiplying that number by 131.25. The IMPORTANT figure is knowing the nominal starting gravity (Total weight of sugar or honey) divided by the total volume (of honey or sugar and water), multiplied by the gravity of the fermnetable: sugar .040 ; or honey .035.

Does that help?
Sort of... As I read your reply I felt like I was understanding it at some parts and then in the very next sentence I was like "What?" and then moments later I felt like I understood again. It's like some parts made sense and others didn't. I don't think I fully understand though.

In your second sentence you said "you ignore where you are at in the process". What did you mean by this? You mean ignore my Starting Gravity from from before I added extra volume?

You also said the problem I was describing "does not exist"... I'm just struggling to understand how adding volume wouldn't cause issues with reading the hydrometer. I know you said it's about TOTAL sugars in suspension and while the total sugars do not change by adding more liquid volume, the liquid's density does change... In and of itself, this change in density wouldn't matter, except in the scenario I laid out an initial reading had already been taken at a different volume and therefore a change in density has occurred that was not the result of fermentation. I mean, ultimately, a hydrometer is just a buoyancy meter that measures the must's density based on how much it floats. Add more liquid while keeping the sugar the same and you will wind up diluting the solution and lowering the liquid's density and therefore causing the hydrometer to sink deeper than it otherwise would have from fermentation alone... I'm just struggling to see how artificially altering the must's density with additional volume while trying to use a hydrometer to track the change just from fermentation is a problem that doesn't really matter.

Anyway, I didn't mean to turn this Mead/Fruit Tea forum into a lesson on Hydrometers for Newbies... Do you know of any good videos on any of this stuff so you don't have to waste your time trying to explain it to me... I am very much an audio/visual learner anyway.
 
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bernardsmith

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Do I know any good videos about using an hydrometer? Sorry, I don't. You can google this.

My point was that when you are talking about changing either the liquid volume or the sugar content of your solution (it's already a wine or mead if you have added the yeast then you ignore the hydrometer as a measure of the starting gravity - because you cannot go back in time: You added yeast and the yeast began to consume the sugar. What you do is calculate and not measure the starting gravity. That calculation will also give you the potential ABV when all the sugar has been fermented. The reading of your hydrometer you can use because that ALWAYS tells you the CURRENT gravity. But when you change the volume or the amount of sugar in solution it can not do any calculations to account for that. It always only gives you CURRENT gravity. And current gravity simply informs you (in your case) only how much sugar is left to ferment (as measured by the gravity or density of the wine or mead) and once active fermentation has ended then it can help you determine how much alcohol is in solution if you know the TRUE starting gravity (by calculation) and that you can calculate by subtracting the finished gravity from the true starting gravity and multiplying that number by 131.25
 
OP
The Experimenter

The Experimenter

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Do I know any good videos about using an hydrometer? Sorry, I don't. You can google this.

My point was that when you are talking about changing either the liquid volume or the sugar content of your solution (it's already a wine or mead if you have added the yeast then you ignore the hydrometer as a measure of the starting gravity - because you cannot go back in time: You added yeast and the yeast began to consume the sugar. What you do is calculate and not measure the starting gravity. That calculation will also give you the potential ABV when all the sugar has been fermented. The reading of your hydrometer you can use because that ALWAYS tells you the CURRENT gravity. But when you change the volume or the amount of sugar in solution it can not do any calculations to account for that. It always only gives you CURRENT gravity. And current gravity simply informs you (in your case) only how much sugar is left to ferment (as measured by the gravity or density of the wine or mead) and once active fermentation has ended then it can help you determine how much alcohol is in solution if you know the TRUE starting gravity (by calculation) and that you can calculate by subtracting the finished gravity from the true starting gravity and multiplying that number by 131.25
OK, that made more sense. Calculating it absolutely makes sense… In my mind I was thinking you would keep using a hydrometer, but why would you when you can just easily calculate it. Got it!
 

bernardsmith

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and just like the idea of estimating in math that you likely learned - having a sense of what the starting gravity should be helps you see whether you may have done something wrong when you measure the gravity at the start under normal conditions (has all the sugar been dissolved? have you added too much water? Did you forget that fruit juice is not just water but water and fermentable sugars etc).
 

Raptor99

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The way I think about it is to calculate what the original gravity would have been if I had put everything in at the beginning. Since I already know the original volume and the OG I measured at the start, I can take the volume and SG of whatever I am adding, I can use a calculator such as this http://fermcalc.com/FermCalcJS.html to figure out the SG of the blend as though I had added everything at the beginning. To use the calculator, click on Blending, then Advanced. That gives me an estimated "original gravity" that I can use to calculate ABV when I am finished.

In practice I use a refractometer to measure Brix rather than a hydrometer, but the principle is the same.
 
OP
The Experimenter

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I just wanted to post a quick update. A couple of people in this thread asked me to keep them posted on what I decide to do and how it goes.

As I suggested back on the 10th, I'm going to do 4 volumetrically scaled batches (likely half gallon):
  1. One of regular mead (as a control)
  2. One in which the must was made by steeping the tea in the same water the honey is added to (and then removing the solid chunks before fermenting)
  3. One in which the dry tea pieces are added to primary and left in primary the whole time (but removed when transferring to secondary)
  4. One in which the dry tea pieces are added to secondary and left in there until bottling
I have procured the half gallon fermenters (just store bought juice bottles with mouths that are wide enough/small enough for bungs to fit snuggly) as well as the honey (to try to make the experiment as consistent as possible across the four batches I went with store bought Aunt Sue's Raw & Unfiltered Clover Honey which comes in 1.5lbs bottles, the perfect amount for a half gallon batch so I won't even need to measure... but probably still will just to be sure everything is the same). I already had the Tealyra fruit tea and the yeast (I plan on using D47). Anyway, I think I'm all good to go...

I just need to figure out a good brew day. I already have 1 brew going that needs to be transferred soon and 2 other planned brews I need to start soon before their fermentables and other ingredients go bad... So I just gotta figure out a day I can start this. It will hopefully be sometime this coming weekend. When I do start it, I will post a detailed Recipe & Process post to give you guys all the details and will of course post periodic updates and eventually final results.
 
OP
The Experimenter

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Well, it took me almost 2 months, but I finally started my scaled experiment!! I started it just a few days ago (I didn't want to post about it right away because I wanted to make sure all 4 got off the ground and started strong before posting about it).

As I suggested back on January 10th and 27th, I'm doing 4 half-gallon volumetrically scaled batches:
  1. Regular: One half-gallon of regular Mead which uses the same basic recipe as the other batches, minus the addition of the tea (as a control)
  2. Steeped before Primary: One half-gallon in which the must was made by steeping the tea in hot water and using that hot tea to then help dissolve the honey and create the must (and then removing the solid chunks before fermenting)
  3. Loose in Primary: One half-gallon in which the dry tea pieces are added to primary and left in primary the whole time (but removed when transferring to secondary)
  4. Loose in Secondary: One half-gallon in which the dry tea pieces are added to secondary and left in there until bottling (which means it will essentially be identical to the control during Primary with the experimental treatment applied to it only once we get to Secondary)
Notes about the above summary of batches:
  • Of course, there are other potential conditions/experimental treatments I could have tried. For example, I could have done a combination of Batch 2 and 3 by having one in which the must was made with steeped tea AND the solid chunks were left in during Primary OR I could have done one in which the solid tea was in Primary, but only for the first half or second half of Primary OR I could have done one in which the solid tea was put in during Primary AND Secondary OR... the point is, you can think of a thousand ways I could do this. However, these 3 experimental batches (plus 1 control) will give me a good sense of how best to use Dehydrated Fruit and/or Dry Herb tea in fermenting meads in the future and the result of these 3 batches will inform me in regards to more specific techniques (like the ones I just mentioned) that I may want to try in the future.
  • I mentioned the batches are "volumetrically scaled" down. They are 1/2-scale batches of a basic mead recipe I've used before (3lbs of Unfiltered Clover Honey per gallon, fermented with D47... that's it; like I said, a basic mead).
  • All 4 batches will undergo Primary (and probably Secondary as well) in the same room so as to subject them to the same environment to account for any temperature changes. The room they will be in is a ground floor room (normally I brew in my basement, but it's too cold right now) that varies in temperature due to how and when the sun hits the room through its windows, but normally ranges from 67-73 °F on a normal day with the average being around 69-70 °F throughout most of the day.

Since I am "The Experimenter", here is my experimental design (I'm just messing around, I know this isn't a true scientific experiment and I do not think so highly of myself so as to actually act like I'm some great scientist on the verge of discovery... but even as an adult, I still enjoy "playing Scientist" from time to time):

Experimental Question: What is the best method for using Dehydrated Fruit / Dried Herb Tea in mead making so as to effectively infuse the flavor into the final product such that the final product has a noticeably different flavor than normal mead, yet is still pleasant and pleasurable to drink?

Hypothesis: I think that the mead in which the must was made with tea steeped before hand will be the best result. (I actually have no particular rationale for that, it's just the baseless prediction I'm gonna make)

Recipes:

CONTROL
  • Control: On 2/27 started a half-gallon of mead with 1.5lbs of Aunt Sue’s Unfiltered Clover Honey and enough water to get it up to 60oz (the bottles I am using are half-gallon juice jugs in which the 64oz mark is right up to the rim, so I only filled to 60oz so as to leave headspace). I shook it a lot too aerate it and to mix the honey in (warm/mildly hot water was used to help dissolve the honey quicker and more efficiently).
    • Added 1/4 packet (about 1.25g) of D47. Because two of the other ones have tea in them, I added 1/8 teaspoon of LD Carlson Yeast Energizer (diammonium phosphate mixed with yeast Springcell and Magnesium Sulphate) to this bottle, which is half the recommended amount for this volume, to hopefully account for any small amount of natural nutrients provided by the tea in the ones that contain tea.
    • OG = 1.115 (it was rather foamy and hardy to read, but it was around 1.112 to 1.118)
    • Notes and Observations from the first 48 hours:
      • At 12 hours it was already bubbling, but at an inconsistent rate, sometimes bubbling once every 4-5 seconds and sometimes bubbling three times per second. Timing it with a stopwatch, I was able to calculate that on average it was bubbling about once every 2 seconds.
      • On Day 2 (3/1), at around 36 hours in, I removed the airlock (forgot to time the rate of bubbling), capped it, and gently shook it to agitate the mixture, aerate a little bit more, and make sure everything was thoroughly mixed in and dissolved. Aside from wanting to make sure everything was thoroughly mixed in, I didn't really have any reason for shaking it at this time... I kinda just wanted to see what would happen. Both this one and the one that will eventually have Loose Tea in Secondary (both at this point are just regular mead + half the amount of yeast energizer recommended for this volume) immediately ballooned up, meaning the plastic containers they were in became so pressurized they couldn’t even be squeezed anymore. Upon uncapping, it almost foamed over and the pressure had to be slowly released. Something is causing a lot of gas in these two compared to the two with tea in them (that, or the tea in the other two is inhibiting fermentation/gas compared to these two... possibly the tea is making the must more acidic than I predicted). The airlock was refilled and re-fitted.
      • At around 48 hours in it is bubbling once every 3.5 seconds.

EXPERIMENTAL GROUPS
  1. Tea Stepped before Primary: On 2/27 started a half-gallon of mead with 1.5lbs of Aunt Sue’s Unfiltered Clover Honey and enough water to get it up to 60oz (the bottles I am using are half-gallon juice jugs in which the 64oz mark is right up to the rim, so I only filled to 60oz so as to leave headspace). I shook it a lot too aerate it and to mix the honey in (warm/mildly hot water was used to help dissolve the honey quicker and more efficiently).
    • This one also had 2 tablespoons of brewed Tealyra Strawberry Orange Sunrise tea in it (tea was ground up so there were no big chunks and therefore the measuring of the 2 teaspoons was more accurate; tea was brewed/steeped in 12oz of hot, but not boiling, water before being put into the must and all solid pieces were strained out and no loose tea was put in).
    • Added 1/4 packet (about 1.25g) of D47. No nutrients or anything were added, and the brewed/steeped tea might actually give some natural nutrients on its own (not sure though).
    • OG = 1.115 (unlike the other ones, this one didn't foam much and was easy to read. It landed squarely between the 1.114 and 1.116 marks on my hydrometer)
    • Notes and Observations from the first 48 hours:
      • At 12 hours it is already bubbling, but unlike the others it is bubbling at a consistent rate of about once every 2 seconds.
      • At around 36 hours in, I removed the airlock (forgot to time the rate of bubbling), capped it, and gently shook it to agitate the mixture, aerate a little bit more, and make sure everything was thoroughly mixed in and dissolved. Aside from wanting to make sure everything was thoroughly mixed in, I didn't really have any reason for shaking it at this time... I kinda just wanted to see what would happen. The honey all seemed to be dissolved and there was only a little bit of sediment on the bottom before I shook it (possibly small solid particulates from the tea that I failed to strain out when adding the tea to the must, or possibly some very early lees). After opening it, it hissed and foamed up about 2 or 3 inches, but did not foam over out of the bottle. It foamed slightly more than the one with Loose Tea in Primary had but much less than the other two without any tea (which would have foamed over out of the bottles if I hadn't slowly opened them)... perhaps the tea is making the must more acidic and more hostile to the yeast than I expected. The airlock was refilled and re-fitted.
      • At around 48 hours in it is bubbling once every 3 seconds.
  2. Loose Tea in Primary: On 2/27 started a half-gallon of mead with 1.5lbs of Aunt Sue’s Unfiltered Clover Honey and enough water to get it up to 60oz (the bottles I am using are half-gallon juice jugs in which the 64oz mark is right up to the rim, so I only filled to 60oz so as to leave headspace). I shook it a lot too aerate it and to mix the honey in (warm/mildly hot water was used to help dissolve the honey quicker and more efficiently).
    • This one also had 2 tablespoons of loose ground up Tealyra Strawberry Orange Sunrise tea in it (tea was ground up so there were no big chunks and therefore the measuring of the 2 teaspoons was more accurate; tea was added loose as opposed to being brewed/steeped before being put in). Some parts of the tea immediately floated and others immediately sank. It was hard to tell which parts did which, but I’m guessing many of the chunks of freeze dried apples and strawberries sank while the lighter things (like the strands of lemongrass and dehydrated orange) probably floated.
    • Added 1/4 packet (about 1.25g) of D47. No nutrients or anything were added, and the loose tea might actually give some natural nutrients on its own.
    • OG = 1.115 (it was rather foamy and hardy to read, but it was around 1.112 to 1.118)
    • Notes and Observations from the first 48 hours:
      • At 12 hours it is already bubbling, but at an inconsistent rate, sometimes bubbling once every 4-5 seconds and sometimes bubbling three times per second. Timing it with a stopwatch, I was able to calculate that on average it was bubbling about once every 2 seconds.
      • At around 36 hours in, I removed the airlock (forgot to time the rate of bubbling), capped it, and gently shook it to agitate the mixture, aerate a little bit more, and make sure everything was thoroughly mixed in and dissolved. Aside from wanting to make sure everything was thoroughly mixed in, I didn't really have any reason for shaking it at this time... I kinda just wanted to see what would happen. The honey all seemed to be dissolved and there was only a little bit of sediment on the bottom before I shook it (mostly large particulates from the solid tea and possibly some very early lees). After opening it, it hissed and foamed up a very small amount (maybe half an inch), but did not foam over. It foamed slightly less than the one with tea steeped before primary and significantly less than the two others that don’t have any tea... perhaps the tea is making the must more acidic and more hostile to the yeast than I expected and thus less gassy... Idk, just a theory. The airlock was refilled and re-fitted.
      • At around 48 hours in, it was bubbling once every 3.86 seconds (average calculated by timing multiple bubbles with a stopwatch).
  3. Loose Tea in Secondary: On 2/27 started a half-gallon of mead with 1.5lbs of Aunt Sue’s Unfiltered Clover Honey and enough water to get it up to 60oz (the bottles I am using are half-gallon juice jugs in which the 64oz mark is right up to the rim, so I only filled to 60oz so as to leave headspace). I shook it a lot too aerate it and to mix the honey in (warm/mildly hot water was used to help dissolve the honey quicker and more efficiently).
    • Added 1/4 packet (about 1.25g) of D47. Because two of the other ones have tea in them, I added 1/8 teaspoon of LD Carlson Yeast Energizer (diammonium phosphate mixed with yeast Springcell and Magnesium Sulphate) to this bottle, which is half the recommended amount for this volume, to hopefully account for any small amount of natural nutrients provided by the tea in the ones that contain tea... this one will eventually have tea in it (the same Strawberry Orange Sunrise tea from Tealyra), but only in secondary after most (or possibly all), of fermentation is complete.
    • OG = ~1.115 (it was rather foamy and hardy to read, but it was around 1.112 to 1.118)
    • Notes and Observations from the first 48 hours:
      • At 12 hours it is already bubbling, though very slowly compared to the others at a rate of about 5 seconds per bubble. This might be due to an imperfect seal with the bung and airlock as this is something I have struggled with in the last 12 hours and have repeatedly tried to refit and get a good seal on, but the bung keeps pushing itself up and out of the bottle (the bung does not appear to have any visible defects and the neck of the bottle appears normally shaped... but for some reason it keeps pushing itself up and out). However, I suspect it is actually fermenting at about the same rate as the other three bottles since it was prepared in the exact same way with the same ingredients, the same yeast, the same original gravity... the same everything.
      • At around 36 hours in, I removed the airlock (forgot to time the rate of bubbling), capped it, and gently shook it to agitate the mixture, aerate a little bit more, and make sure everything was thoroughly mixed in and dissolved. Aside from wanting to make sure everything was thoroughly mixed in, I didn't really have any reason for shaking it at this time... I kinda just wanted to see what would happen. Both this one and the Control (which at this point are just regular mead + half the amount of yeast energizer recommended for this volume) immediately ballooned up, meaning the plastic containers they were in became so pressurized they couldn’t even be squeezed anymore. While the plastic container for the control is pretty solid, I was afraid that the plastic container that this one is in might actually rupture! Upon uncapping, it almost foamed over and the pressure had to be slowly released. Something is causing a lot of gas in these two with tea in them (that, or the tea in the other two is inhibiting fermentation/gas compared to these two... possibly the tea is making the must more acidic than I predicted). The airlock was refilled and re-fitted.
      • At around 48 hours in, it was bubbling once every 2 seconds.
Further Details going forward:
I tend to take notes in meticulous detail (at a minimum timing and recording the rate of bubbling every single day in Primary) and always try to account for the slightest and smallest variables... that being said, I am not going to come back here and post every little detail every day. I'll update you guys every week or two, especially when I take hydrometer readings and when I eventually transfer to secondary and eventually bottle (and of course when I eventually taste them months from now).

Aging:
I have made mead only a few times, but I've always heard to age anywhere from 3 months to 1 year... but how long should I age for a small batch experiment like this? One might argue that the aging doesn't really matter in this case since the purpose of this experiment is to compare the flavor of the 4 different methods, so aging as little as 1 or 2 months could be fine so long as they are all aged the SAME amount of time so the batches/recipes can be consistently and evenly compared... It doesn't matter if they are well aged or "nouveau" so long as whatever age they are, they are all the same age when comparing them, right? For this reason, I think I might do as little as 1 month of aging.

Any thoughts? Is there any reason for the purposes of this experiment that I should age longer than a month?

How they will be tested:
I will taste test them myself, knowing which is which. I will then have family or friends do a blind taste test comparing them. Based on the results of my non-blind taste test and their blind taste test, I will try a variety of blends to see what that does. These blends will be non-blind taste tested by me and blind taste tested by friends or family. I will report back to all of you on these results.

Planned Duration:
How long should mead ferment in Primary and how long should it spend in Secondary? I've only done a few basic meads before (but never with D47) and they took 1-2 months to ferment... and because I was new to mead making at the time and didn't know even the basics really, I did not do Secondary and instead immediately bottled and only let them age 1-2 months before drinking them. So... How long is the typical Primary and typical Secondary for a Mead?

I'm going to let it ferment until it stops, regardless of how long that takes, but I'd still like to know what the "average" time is that mead spends in Primary and Secondary just because I'm curious.
 
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The Experimenter

The Experimenter

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In my previous post I gave a detailed outline of my experiment... it's probably the longest post I have ever written on this site. In that post though, I asked a couple of questions that I now realize probably got buried in all the unnecessary detail and even if you did read the whole thing, you probably didn't even realize I had asked questions by the time you got to the end.

So, I figured I would repost my questions from my long post here:

Aging?:
I have made mead only a few times, but I've always heard to age anywhere from 3 months to 1 year... but how long should I age for a small batch experiment like this? One might argue that the aging doesn't really matter in this case since the purpose of this experiment is to compare the flavor of the 4 different methods, so aging as little as 1 or 2 months could be fine so long as they are all aged the SAME amount of time so the comparisons can be consistently and evenly compared... It doesn't matter if they are well aged or "nouveau" so long as whatever age they are, they are all the same age when comparing them, right? For this reason, I think I might do as little as 1 month of aging.

Any thoughts? Is there any reason for the purposes of this experiment that I should age longer than a month?

Duration of Fermentation?:
How long should mead ferment in Primary and how long should it spend in Secondary? I've only done a few basic meads before (but never with D47) and they took 1-2 months to ferment... and because I was new to mead making at the time and didn't know even the basics really, I did not do Secondary and instead immediately bottled and only let them age 1-2 months before drinking them. So... How long is the typical Primary and typical Secondary for a Mead?

I'm going to let it ferment until it stops, regardless of how long that takes, but I'd still like to know what the "average" time is that mead spends in Primary and Secondary just because I'm curious.
 

Kyzaboy89

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With as many variables as can affect a mead, even if you are trying a recipe again, the only "standard time" to keep in primary or secondary is entirely up to you. Ideally, and what I believe is most common or widely practiced, once your final gravity shows you are finished and holds that reading for a week or so you should be safe. That being said your brew can off-gas on its own for months with "hidden" CO² that won't bubble in a jug or move an airlock. If you have an off odor or a stressed fermentation, those odors will slowly air out of the mead over time which is why time does wonders for mead, it just keeps getting better. As far as secondary goes, if you don't have any concerns about gas and your gravity is stable for a week or more and you like how it tastes then I say bottle and drink at your leisure. Some mazer's can age for years whereas others can't keep mead around long enough to know what aging does. Whenever there isn't a concern of off flavors, which CO² can cause like bitterness, or the chances of creating bottle bombs are gone, I say bottle. If primary fermentation is done and you feel it's ready to age or drink just go ahead and bulk/ bottle age and enjoy it whenever you like.

And if you are experimenting all I say is if you like one but feel you should age another, it's your experiment, do what you want. Keep them similar and see what a side by side does between them all after they have aged a month, 3 months, 6 and a year. Ultimately, how much are you willing to experiment and what are you looking to find/learn from this?

Just my opinion and how I determine when it's done or time to transfer around, hope it helps and wish you luck.
 
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