Goji Mead

This is actually my 2nd attempt at Goji Mead. First attempt was fantastic! I wanted to do another brew, and didn’t have any local fruits to use, so I used some (rehydrated) dried goji berries. This is also the first batch I posted here in real time, or at least a few minutes after I finished it, and not a retrospective post.

This was brewed in accordance with my basic mead recipe, with the following additions:

  • started with a chaga decoction
  • soaked a quart of dried goji berries in some of the chaga tea, then blended in VitaMix (high speed blender)
  • used 3 bags of tea done up with the chaga tea
  • added juice of 3 lemons (goji berries have ascorbic acid)

Also, I used a siphon hose coming out of the stopper, with the other end in a bucket of water, to avoid re-creating an artificial axe-murder scene.

3 gallons of Goji Mead

Let’s see how this batch turns out!

UPDATE: Good thing I used the siphon hose, less than 12 hours into primary fermentation:

Goji Mead - siphon tube

Note that the hose and the water in the bucket are now red…. if I hadn’t done this, the pressure would have built up until the airlock exploded, and I’ve had another axe-murder scene on my hands. Phew!

UPDATE: Here’s the label:

Strawberry Mead

I used the same Basic Mead Recipe but started with a chaga decoction tea as the liquid base. I used 3 lemons. At the end, I whizzed up 2 quarts of fresh, local strawberries in a VitaMix high speed blender, and added it to the must.

This was put up on June 23rd. Imagine my surprise that night when I got home and thought I’d walked in on an axe-murder. The mead, in its initial blast of fermentation, and shot up out of the airlock and spewed all over the ceiling, walls, floor, laundry machine, and really everything. Man, what a mess.

This will get racked around Lammas (Aug 1) or so.

Lovely deep red color:

And finally, a pic of the label:

Dandelion Mead

I used the same Basic Mead Recipe but made dandelion tea to use instead of water. Dandelions came from a friend’s yard. I only used the blossoms themselves. I brought 2 gallons of water to a boil, poured it over the blossoms, and let it sit overnight. In the morning I strained it and used that tea to brew the mead. I used 3 oranges and 3 lemons.

It was brewed on May 23. I haven’t racked it yet, but will in about 2 weeks. I have high hopes for this one; the tea was clean and delicious, and I know a few people who love dandelion wine.

This mead came out great, and served its purpose well at a recent Bardic Circle around our firepit. Here’s the label:

Spruce Mead

I brewed some spruce mead on Beltane (May 1). I used the same Basic Mead Recipe but before I started I gathered some new spring growth of spruce boughs from my yard. I decocted the boughs in the spring water for several hours, cooled it overnight, and strained it. I then used this tea to brew the mead as above. One modification: spruce contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C, settlers and natives used it to fight scurvy) so I only used 2 lemons rather than 6.

This batch was racked a few days ago, and is already surprisingly tasty. A good, clean, sweet mead, with an unusual afterflavor of spruce. Nice, and should only get better with age!

Here’s the label:

Basic Mead Recipe

This is my basic mead recipe, which is very versatile and can be adapted in as many ways as you can imagine. The recipe comes from my friend and brewing mentor Harper Meader, who developed it over 20 years of trial-and-error experimentation. I have adapted it in several ways, including converting it to 3-gallon batches which I find very convenient to do for mead.

This methodology produces a very sweet mead, which most newbies (and many old-timers) seem to prefer. In reality you can use much less honey if you desire a drier mead. 3/4 of a gallon is still on the sweet side actually. If you prefer to be more precise, then you can use a hydrometer to see where you are. A beginning alcohol potential of 20% will produce an extremely sweet meat. 15% will produce a pretty dry mead. You can start anywhere in between, as you experiment and learn.

The Recipe

Equipment Needed

  • 3 gallon carboy
  • 3 gallon stockpot
  • stopper/airlock
  • food-grade plastic tubing (for siphoning)
  • large funnel (optional but very helpful)
  • strainer (only needed if you brew with herbs or fruits with pits, etc)


  • 1 gallon of local, organic (if possible), high quality honey
  • 2 gallons of freshly-harvested spring water, preferably that has never touched plastic
  • 1 packet of wine yeast
  • 6 organic oranges or lemons
  • 3 bags of organic black tea
  • additional herbs, fruits, or flavorings

In general, use the best quality ingredients you can. The water I use is some of the cleanest water on earth, at 10ppm TDS, that I collect myself from a spring on the top of a mountain. In my opinion, quality water is one of the most important aspects of brewing in general.

For mead, quality honey is important as well. Use honey that has not been heat treated, and has not had toxic chemicals sprayed into the hives for any reason. Your best bet is to find an apiary near you, talk to them, and find out how they produce their honey. I get a gallon of honey from an apiary near me for about $35. The notion of “organic honey” is hazy at best, since bees collect pollen from such a wide geography. The main thing is to make sure the beekeepers aren’t chemically treating or heating their honey. If they aren’t, then it’s likely to be good quality honey.

(addendum, a friend of mine just wrote me with the following: “re organic honey: beehives set into the middle of organic fields will harvest mainly from the closest proximity, so as long as they have enough to collect on the organic farm they will not travel to the non-organic farm a mile down the road. Non-specified commercially available honey, however, is mostly from very heavily pesticide treated crops.”)

I am currently using Red Star Montrachet yeast for my meadmaking, though any sort of wine yeast will do. I haven’t experimented much with using different yeasts, because this yeast works beautifully. I haven’t needed to change, and this yeast is readily available in my area. I do wish to start experimenting with wild yeast.

Wine yeast is expecting grapes, which contain citric acid and tannic acid, 2 things honey does not contain. To compensate for this, we will add oranges or lemons (for the citrus), and black tea (for the tannins).

Additional flavorings can be fruit, herbs, cacao, vanilla, spices, anything your imagination tells you will taste good.

The Process: Brewing night

In a 3 gallon stockpot, add the gallon of honey and about 1.5 gallons of spring water. Stir and mix well. If you need to heat it gently to get the honey to dissolve more completely, then do so but I don’t recommend heating it more than 100 degrees.

Next, add the juice from the oranges/lemons to the pot. Use a small saucepan, and bring a few cups of water to a boil. Put in the 3 bags of black tea, and let steep for 3-4 minutes. Remove the teabags and add the tea to the stockpot.

Then, prepare the yeast. Empty the yeast packet into a small bowl and add some water over the top of it, stir (preferably with wood not metal) and dissolve the yeast. Let it sit for a few minutes until it starts to bubble and smell vaguely of bread.

At this point, you can add any additional flavorings you’d like to use. If you are using fruit, then I like to blend it up (liquify it) in a high-speed blender. Add all the ingredients, and mix well.

Once all the ingredients are in the stockpot, make sure it cools to below 90 degrees (hopefully it never made it above there to begin with). When it’s cool, pour the yeast/water into the bottom of your carboy. Then, pour the must (the liquid in the stockpot) through a funnel into the carboy. It should be less than 3 gallons of liquid, so add additional water to bring it up to 3 gallons. Put a stopper on the carboy, pick it up, and shake it vigorously to dissolve and oxidize the yeast.

Finally, put a stopper on the top of the carboy, and seal it up with an airlock. Within 12-24 hours the mixture will start bubbling vigorously, and the fermentation will have begun!

Note: watch the first day of fermentation very closely. It can get so vigorous that it can literally shoot out the top of the carboy! If this happens, use your siphoning hose in the stopper, and put the other end of the siphoning hose into a bucket filled 1/3 of the way with water. This will allow the fermentation to “blow off” the gases without making a huge mess (this is NO fun to clean up, trust me).

When it stops bubbling: Rack the Mead

3-6 weeks after you put the batch up, the bubbling will slow down and eventually stop, and the mead will begin to clear (all the sediment falls to the bottom). At this stage, I siphon the mead off, leaving the sediment in the bottom, into 1 gallon glass jugs. You should get 2 gallons of clear mead, allow this to continue to ferment and age (seal up the 1 gallon jugs with an airlock). Of the remaining mead in the carboy, get as much clear stuff off the top as possible. Then, you can drink the sediment right away or use it in cooking. It should already be delicious, and will only get better with age!

When it clears: Bottling and Labeling

Once the mead clears even further in the 1 gallon jugs (over the next several weeks/months), it will be ready for bottling. Use your siphon to draw the liquid off the top and fill your bottles. Steam the corks while you are siphoning to both soften and sterilize them. Use a corker to install the corks into the bottles, and put them up! The longer they age the better it will get.

Of course you want to label your meads, if for no other reason that you’ll know what kind it is when you open an aged bottle, long after you forgot about the batches. Get creative! Doing the labels is, in some ways, the most fun part of the process apart from drinking your finished mead.