A while back, I decided to try brewing with a black tea base. I have always been a fan of Constant Comment tea and, upon realizing that the tea is produced using many of the spices that brewers commonly put in their beer, I thought it would make a great addition in my beer. I decided to start with a base of wheat beer. My classic recipe for wheat beer is 1 part Pilsner Malt to 1 part Wheat Malt. In addition to this basic mix I decided to add Honey at Flame out. I went with a good and classic German Wheat (Wyeast 3333), and fermented at pretty warm temperatures (70 degrees). For the tea portion of the beer I went with 3 Constant Comment Tea Bags per gallon, put in at 3 minutes before flame out and taken out before cooling the wort.
The beer turned out to be good, but not great. The beer has a nice nose of ester and a hint of Constant Comment. The taste is what makes this beer stand out. At the beginning you can definitely taste the unique blend of spices that makes this beer stand out. The disappointing part comes out on a few seconds after the sip. There is a bit of a bitter aftertaste which comes out, putting a a damper on the nice flavor you get a the beginning. This flavor is very reminiscent of the bitter taste you get after over brewing a tea (definitely different from a high hop bitterness).
Overall my beer turned out to be pretty tasty, although not what I would call a success. It has definitely made me think about how black tea can be used to maximum effect. If I were to brew a similar beer again, I would take the following into consideration:
1) The dryness of the beer lent itself to showing off rather than complementing the Black Tea Bitterness, Next time add more unfermentables and take out some of the honey if all else fails (especially since honey ferments so completely)
2) I was trying to go for a honey like taste in this beer, to complement the tea flavors. Unfortunately fermented honey does not taste like the substance we put in our tea. Instead of using so much honey, try going with something like Honey Malt, all of the flavor without the warping process of fermentation.
3) Less is more. I think that the tea has a VERY powerful presence. I think 1-2 bags could have done considerably better than 3. Even though this might take out some of the nice flavors, it will also prevent the black tea from becoming overwhelming.
4) Do NOT treat this like a Heffe. This was a mistake I made when I poured my first bottle of this beer. The taste of the yeast made this beer almost undrinkable. It is definitely a palatable beer on its own, but the addition of yeast added a complex taste to this beer that certainly did not belong.
For a Link to this Recipe Click Here: https://fermentationeducation.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/konstant-kommentar/