Introduction: Constant Comment Capsicumel
Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey and water. Some regard it as the ancestor of all fermented drinks. References to it can be found in historical records throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, and some think its use even predates soil cultivation.
There are nearly fifty variations on mead recipes that are known. Two of these are -
Capsicumel: A mead flavored with chile peppers.
Metheglin: a traditional mead with herbs and/or spices added. Some of the most common metheglins are ginger, tea, orange peel, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, cloves or vanilla. Its name indicates that many metheglins were originally employed as folk medicines. The Welsh word for mead is medd, and the word "metheglin" derives from meddyglyn, a compound of meddyg, "healing" + llyn, "liquor".
My recipe marries these two variations. I use Bigelow's brand "Constant Comment" black tea for the tannic acid, fruit and spice flavors for the metheglin. The orange peel / "holiday sweet spice" flavor melds with the heat of the habanero to create a mead that is reminiscent of the origin of the honey liqueur name "Drambuie", which loosely translates as: "The drink that satisfies!"
1 - 6 Gal. carboy (Water cooler jug)
1 One-holed stopper to fit
1 bubbler style fermentation lock
3-liter pitchers (to let tea steep, to reconstitute peppers, to mix honey and water)
one 2-cup glass measuring cup
NOTE: Be sure to follow standard wine making practices concerning sterilization before beginning the process. Follow standard wine bottling practices once the fermentation has completed. Sterilize all equipment once done. This should only be done by adults of the legal age to consume alcohol in your location. Ages vary by your government laws.
5 - 40 oz. bottles of honey
1 box (20 bags) Bigelow's Constant Comment black tea
1 liter White grape concentrate
1 pkg. wine yeast
25 - 30 dehydrated Habanero peppers
1. The black tea and spices. Remove the string and labels from all 20 bags of Bigelow's Constand Comment tea, place them in the bottom of a three liter pitcher. Cover with hot water, and allow to steep overnight (8 hours). This produces the tannic acid needed for the mead.
2. Reconstitute the Habaneros. Place the dehydrated peppers in the bottom of a three liter pitcher. Cover with hot water, and allow to steep overnight (8 hours). This extracts the capsaicin needed.
3. Pour two ounces of the white grape concentrate into the class measuring cup. pour the remainder into the carboy. Remove the tea bags from the pitcher, and add 6 ounces of the brewed tea to the measuring cup. Stir to dissolve the grape concentrate. Add the package of yeast to the measuring cup, and allow to bloom (at room temperature, may take 20 minutes).
4. Remove the rehydrated peppers from the pitcher, and add the liquid to the carboy. Reserve the peppers, as they can be used for other recipes at this time.
5. Add the honey, one jar at a time to one of the pitchers. Add warm water and stir until the honey dissolves in the pitcher. Pour the honey water into the carboy. Fill the honey bottle half way with warm water, and shake well to dissolve any remaining honey. Pour this into the carboy. Repeat for the first four bottles of honey.
6. Pour the activated yeast from the measuring cup into the carboy. Repeat step five for the remaining jar of honey, but pour some of the honey water into the measuring cup, to capture the remaining yeast. Pour all remaining liquids into the pitcher. Top off with warm water to fill 6 gallons.
7. Place the stopper in the bottle top. Add the fermentation lock. In two days or so, you should see the yeast processing the sugars into alcohol. When the active fermentation has stopped (4 - 6 weeks), bottle and enjoy.