Winecraft: Tranquil Tea

Decaf mango tea

Tea wines are lovely, and easy to make. I’ve discovered, however, that these are not well-suited to evening imbibing because of the caffeine content (though it makes for productive wee-hours writing – yikes), so I figured why not try making decaf tea wine?

I began my first small batch (#1) with a herbal green tea blend that had been sitting in the pantry for a while. The process for making this wine and the following one are nearly identical: make the tea, dissolve sugar in it, add apple juice, water, tannin, and yeast nutrient. When sufficiently cool, add the yeast. Easy.

Batch #1 steeped to a nice crimson color (thanks to the hibiscus flowers in the tea) and has a juicy cherry aroma. While I typically use a wine yeast like Premier Cuvée for my country wines, I decided to use a berry wine yeast slurry for this batch, for the following reasons: (1) the berry notes would likely marry well with the tea’s flavors and (2) the slurry should help facilitate active fermentation, which can sometimes be a challenge with tea wines.

One downside to the tea that I chose to use was that the teabags (oh-so-helpfully) opened up when the hot water was poured over them in the primary fermentor, basically becoming loose tea. Not a big deal, though – the material was easily captured by a small mesh strainer when I moved the wine into the secondary fermentor.

Batch #2 is based on a black loose-leaf fruit tea that’s also decaf. It steeped to a dark tea color and is redolent of mango. I used the same berry wine yeast slurry, and the fermentation is active after a couple of days in the primary. Because it’s loose tea, it also needed to be strained when transferred to the secondary.

It will be some time before the fermentation is complete and the wine is ready to be sampled, but if fragrance is any indicator, these should be very pleasant wines. Tea wines are easy to make, economical, and provide a unique and enjoyable flavor profile. If you’re looking for a change, consider adding these to your winemaking repertoire!

Stay tuned for an update when I’ve sampled them to see how they turned out!

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