In this experiment, I am attempting to make a tea beverage somewhat like red wine, but with slightly lower alcohol content. The expected alcohol content is 10%.
Making alcohol is certainly very interesting in terms of biology and chemistry. Beaware of this article is meant to be inspirational rather than an instruction guide. I am far from an experienced wine brewer, therefore if you do the wine make sure to do your own research.
- 60 grams of loose tea leaves,
- 800 milliliters of water
- Starter yeast
- 200g White sugar
- Coffee filter,
- Container for fermenting (at least 1 liter in size)
- Airlock (or plastic foil and plastic band)
To begin, simmer the tea leaves with the water and sugar for 20 minutes. I used Organic Sencha tea, but you may make your own choice. Remove from heat source after 20 minutes, and allow the tea to cool to room temperature. If you add the yeast while the tea is too hot, it will kill the yeast and prevent you from making wine. Once the tea is room temperature, add the starter yeast. Wine making yeast is easily available, or you may use the one you created. See https://www.teacanvas.com/fermented-sparkling-tea-1-2/
Sencha + Sugar + first fermentation
Add a splash of vinegar to the concoction, that will alter the PH and keep away the mold growing. Leave the tea leaves and starter in the pan or a container, and start the first fermentation; four days at room temperature. At this stage the yeast need oxygen to reproduce, cover the container with a lid or a cloth. Bubbles of CO2 should be visible after 24 hours. Stir the contents once daily with a clean stir stick to release the carbon dioxide and supply the yeast with oxygen.
After four days, pour the liquid through a coffee filter to remove the leaves, and place in a container for the second fermentation. It is very important that you place an airlock on the container. This is a special piece of equipment. It can be purchased on eBay, or in a wine supplies store. Allowing the carbon dioxide to escape from the container is very important- if this does not happen, the buildup of the gas can cause the container to explode. Alternately, placing plastic foil over the opening of the container and securing it with a rubber band will perform the same function. It allows the carbon dioxide to escape, and prevents harmful bacteria from entering.
Place the container in a cool dark place where it will not be disturbed for three to four weeks. A closet may work well, or a cupboard. After the time has passed, taste it. It may be bitter and harsh and the tea wine will be cloudy, but not to worry – the next step will remove the sediments and clear the wine up. The second fermentation is completed when you not longer see any bubbles, that means the yeast have ate most of the sugar and turned it to alcohol.
European wine makers use cold stabilization to remove sediments and make the wine clear. So what is cold stabilization? Don’t worry, it is just fancy language – all that has to be done is to place the wine in your refrigerator. Five degrees Celsius is needed to work the magic. After just a week, the wine will be clear and will taste smoother. This was accomplished by having all the sediments settle to the bottom of the bottle.
The next step is referred to as racking. Pour the clear layer of tea wine into another clean container, being careful not to disturb the sediments at the bottom of the bottle. If this is difficult for you, try using a pipe to suck the contents out. The liquid can also be passed through cheesecloth to ensure no debris remains.
The tea wine is now ready for consumption.
Pasteurization & Bottling
Before you can safely age the wine it must be pasteurized. Make a warm water bath for the wine. The temperature should be at least 55 degrees Celsius. Clean the wine bottle with hot water, and then pour your tea wine into it. Insert a thermometer into the wine to monitor the temperature inside the bottle. Place the bottle in the warm water bath, and keep it there for 30 minutes. Be sure the temperature is maintained at 55 degrees or higher in the entire time. Pasteurizing kills any yeast and bacteria that might remain in the wine. If those remained they would spoil the wine while it aged. When complete seal the bottle for aging.
Now you are ready to age the tea wine. If the tea wine was very harsh and bitter after the cold stabilization, age it at least one year. If it was already a very nice wine, three to six months will be sufficient. Aging simply makes the wine taste smoother and gentler.
In summary, by using materials I already have at home, paying attention to details in the process, it is possible to make my own wine at home. The ingredients are widely available at the grocers or specialty shops. I really enjoy the pleasure of drinking my own homemade tea wine. I used organic Sencha for this experiment and some reason the seed weed taste of Sencha seems to diminish after the cold stabilization, and surprisingly replaced with a banana like aroma.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients. I think once the process is mastered, it can be used on a wide variety of tea wines. Please, share with us if you have done a tea wine.