Cider with Rooibos/Honeybush

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Cider with Rooibos/Honeybush

Postby jkp » Thu Jul 07, 2016 08:12


As I'm sure you all know, Rooibos (or Red bush) and Honeybush are native South African herbal teas. They've got rather interesting flavours and are caffeine free.

I've been making turbo cider for a while using the age-old home-brew recipe which is something like this:

Basic 1 gallon Turbo Cider Recipe

4L apple juice
0.5l very strong tea <---- The type of tea to use is entirely up to you!
1tsp nutrient
cider/champagne yeast

The recipe doesn't actually specify the type of tea to use. So it seems obvious to me that any tea could actually be used, not just English black tea, after all, the tea is simply added to give extra complexity to the cider. I'm sure people have been using a variety of tea for this purpose already, simply due to what is most readily available locally to them.

So far I've tried these two SA teas with very good results. The earthy flavours of the Rooibos added a robust depth, while a Honeybush version has a more subtle sweet berry flavour. Both are very good as either a dry or back-sweetened cider.

The method is exactly the same as has been done for decades already. Brew a strong (it's up to you exactly how strong!) 0.5L pot of your chosen tea (Rooibos and Honeybush can be steeped for a few hours without becoming harsh like other teas can e.g. Oolong becomes nastily astringent after only 10-15min). The tea is then added to the apple juice before fermentation or to the bottling bucket post-fermentation. It's as simple as that!

So the recipe is just the same:

Basic 1 gallon Rooibos/Honeybush Cider Recipe

4L apple juice
0.5l very strong tea <---- Use Rooibos, Honeybush or even a mixture
1tsp nutrient
cider/champagne yeast

If you're worried about the tea watering down your cider then you could either add some apple juice concentrate to boost the juice, or add the tea leaves/bags straight into the juice (again pre or post fermentation) as you would Elderflowers when making Elderflower wine or Cider.

I'd imagine that many teas would work well in cider, Chinese teas like PuEr or Oolong for example, or fruit teas, herbal teas, flower teas like camomile, Jasmine (Elderflower is essentially another well known and widely used example of a herbal tea utilized in cider making).

Has anyone else experimented with the type of tea they use to make their Cider?

Edit: Add the Turkish tea Rize Cay to the list of possible teas to use. It's robust earthy flavours should work just as well as Rooibos!

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