Raspberry Damiana Mead

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to brew up a custom mead for him. He wanted to work with Damiana, which is an herb I’m only vaguely familiar with. My wife had worked with a Damiana honey infusion. He then mused, “and I think it would go really well with raspberry.”

I did a Raspberry Mead last year, but in general I have been looking to expand my berry meads into using more herbs and other flavoring complexities, apart from my now-customary chaga base.

Damiana is a very interesting herb. One of its Latin names is Turnera aphrodisiaca, an evocative name that gives away one of its ancient uses:

The Greeks named it aphrodisiakos, and it was known as the “goddess of love”. The Mayas and Aztecs used damiana as an aphrodisiac, and also as a general tonic to improve health. They also used to smoke it for relaxation, as well as burning it during ceremonies to induce “visions”. Currently, it is made into a liqueur in Mexico that is quite popular. The herb has historically been considered more important for focusing sexual energies than for creating them.

As you might expect, damiana tea has an enchanting scent; musky yet floral, heady and earthy, a scent that presents itself with the confidence of a lover. You are quite right my friend, it will indeed go very well with raspberry.

Raspberries grow all over my ecosystem, and was able to scrounge up a fabulous variety of them this year (thanks to my generous friends who contributed some…. you know who you are).

I started with a 2-gallon chaga decoction, and at the end of it I threw in a staghorn sumac drupe and a handful of Damiana, let it steep for an hour, then strained it into a carboy to cool.

Once it was cool, I blended 2 quarts of fresh raspberries and strained them into the tea. I then added enough of Tony’s Raspberry Honey to get up to 19% alcohol potential:

After I took this photo, I realized a bit of honey was still undissolved in the bottom of the pot. After I stirred it in, it was just a bit over 19%, which meant the last bit of water I added to top it off brought this brew right up to 19%.

Once mixed together, the high concentration of raspberries (I used almost twice as much as last time) gave a beautiful hue:

The final color is as bright of a mead as I’ve yet made, with the possible exception of the Prickly Pear Mead:

Let’s hope this batch brings some extra special juju to my friend’s gathering. Thanks for the great idea!

UPDATE: 18 December

This mead is now 5% alcohol potential, which gives it a 14% alcohol content.

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