BOOZY TEA: How to Make Hard Tea at Home

Boozy, hard tea, thirst, quenching, and appetizing on a hot summer day. This one is about as easy as it gets, and there’s so much room for creativity and experimentation. From the types of tea you use to the flavors you add.

If you’re looking for a simple and extremely refreshing beverage for your next party, I’ve got you covered. I’m Trent Musho and this is The Bru Sho. Let’s make some boozy iced tea.

With the rise of seltzers in the last few years, there’s been some similar trends popping up for alternative alcoholic drinks. I’ve covered hard seltzers, hard cider, and even hard kombucha, but recently I’ve seen more and more hard iced teas popping up.

I’ve tried a few different brands and I enjoyed them, so I figured I gotta make some at home for myself.

Depending on which iced tea you grab at the store, you’ll get a mixed bag of types of fermentation or alcohol used in them. Some use a clean spirit base and some even use a malted beer background. It’s a bit more rare to find, but occasionally you’ll also see ones that are actually just fermented tea.

And this being a fermentation channel, that’s exactly what I’m aiming for. My goal with this is to have a dry light and super refreshing tea beverage that is kissed with a fruit character.

And in my mind, there really is no better summer tea combo than an ice peach black tea. A little bit of southern flair will go perfectly with any grill out. With that being said, this recipe can be swapped out with any tea or fruit addition you want. Green tea and mango or white tea and watermelon? Let me know in the comments what flavor combo you would do on your first batch. The options are endless.

Now let’s brew. Today I’m making a one gallon batch, but feel free to scale this up to any size you want. This would make a great summer party drink if you feel like making a big batch. This recipe is seriously so easy. You’re really just combining a few ingredients, tea, water, sugar, and yeast.

But there are a couple key tricks to keeping your iced tea clear, which is purely an aesthetic thing, but I’m aiming for the best looking product.

First, let’s talk tea. Like I said, you can use any tea you want, but just keep in mind the steeping time and temperature preference. I’m using black tea, which likes to be steeped at around 210 degrees Fahrenheit, just below boiling for about three to five minutes. Green and white teas like it a bit lower around 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

The longer you steep your tea, the more intense flavor you can get, but you’ll also extract more tannins. I’ve found that three minutes is right on the money. It’s the perfect balance of a moderate tea flavor with low tannins. Too much tannin extraction can lead to astringent and bitter flavors. If you’ve ever brewed your tea too long, you know exactly what astringency is, not that pleasant.

Those tannins can also be a problem for clarity. As the tea cools down the tannins bond with the caffeine present in the tea and it makes for a cloudy drink.

Here’s a side by side of a tea steep for five minutes versus a tea steep for three minutes. You can really see the difference.

So step one is to not overdo the steeping to reduce the overall amount of tannins. The second step is to slowly cool down the tea to room temp. This will also aid in clarity. Something about the tea cooling down, minimizes that bond between the caffeine and tannins. So just set it on the counter and walk away.

For this one gallon batch, I’ll brew up 30 grams of loose leaf black tea and one liter of water for three minutes. Feel free to use bag tea if that’s all you got. Once the timer’s up, I strain the tea into a separate container and let it sit on the counter until it’s cooled down to around 70 degrees. That can take a while, so find a way to keep yourself busy.

As a tea’s cooling down, you can pull out your fermentor of choice. Any one gallon or larger fermentor will work. Today I’m adding in some filtered water, about three-fourths of a gallon or 2.8 liters. Filtered water is ideal for the best tasting final product. In to the fermentor of water I’m gonna add in some sugar.

I’m adding two cups of dextrous or corn sugar since it dissolves so easily into room temp water. If you only have table sugar, then you can dissolve it into some boiling water and add that, or you can add it to the warm tea before it cools down.

The sugar is the food for the yeast, so depending on how much you add, the stronger your final product will be. So if you want it to be real strong, add more. But I’m going for a light drink, so this should be good, but we’ll talk original gravity in a sec.

I’m also gonna add some yeast nutrients. This is completely optional, but if you’d like to other things, having some DAP or Fermaid O around is cheap assurance that your fermentation will do well and be healthy. But if you don’t have these, then don’t worry about it.

Hopefully by now the tea is cooled down. So go ahead and add it in. Remember that everything that touches your drink should be clean and sanitized so that we don’t risk any contamination. That includes the fermentor, the funnel, and any packaging.

Once the tea is in and the sugar is fully dissolved, now is a good time to take an original gravity reading to see if you wanna adjust the sugar levels. The two cups of sugar gave me a starting gravity of 1.040, which might not sound big, but corn sugar ferments out really dry, so this is probably a good starting point for an easy sipper.

Last but not least, it’s the yeast. I’m using SafAle US-05 since it’s clean fermenting and I’ve had great results using it on some of my other alternative alcoholic brews. But use whatever clean ale yeast you like. Kviek would even work great here.

Also, I’m only using a half pack here, that way I can save some for another brew. Half a pack is more than enough for this little baby brew.

Just sprinkle it in, close the lid, give it a light shake to mix things in, and then add an airlock and set it in a cool dark place for about a week to ferment.

After about one week fermentation activity had slowed down, so it took a final gravity reading and got 0.998, which means this hard tea comes in at 5.5% ABV, nice. During fermentation it got a bit cloudy, but it looks like it cleared out nicely on its own.

I also take a taste and it’s really light flavor, but certainly tastes like tea. Since it dried out, it really doesn’t have any sweetness left behind. And if that’s not your jam, you can always stabilize and back sweeten.

Stabilizing keeps the yeast from restarting fermentation when you add in more sugar, allowing your drink to become sweet. If you wanna know more, take a look at my maple wine video where I show how to stabilize and back sweeten. So if you wanted, you could drink this as is, pop it in the fridge and you got hard iced tea.

From there you could always toss in some fruit to a pitcher and be done, but I tend to like some effervescence in my brew. Not a ton like a seltzer, but just a little bit. Also, I want to add some fruit flavor, so let’s take it to the next level with some carbonation and flavoring.

Again, use whatever flavors you want, but I’m gonna be using a pound of frozen peaches in mine. Frozen fruit is great because the freezing process breaks down the cell walls, letting the flavors transfer into your brew easier.

Also, I use these sanitized mesh bags when adding fruit to either my fermentor or keg for easy cleanup and no clogged tubes. If you’re bottling, it’s probably a good idea to add the fruit to your fermenter and let it sit for a few more days to ferment out before bottling.

You wanna be sure you’re at final gravity before attempting to bottle condition. However, I’m gonna keg since it’s less work. It’s as easy as dropping in the bag of fruit and racking the hard tea on top. Just like a dry hop addition, the sugars in the fruit might kick back up fermentation.

It depends on how fast you plan to drink it. Since you’ll be storing it cold, it won’t ferment those sugars right away. And that’s it. Once the fruit and tea is in set the pressure regulator to your desire pressure for me, that’s about 8 – 10 psi for a light sip. And after about one week, I was ready to sit back and sip on this boozy peach iced tea.

And here it is. It’s got a beautiful light yellow hue and a little bit of haze from the peach we added. But that doesn’t bother me, but it really does look beautiful and especially in the sunlight. It looks great. And on the nose I get a lot of the peach aroma and stone fruit character that’s coming through. And a little bit of a black tea aroma coming through at the end, but not much.

It’s got a slight peach flavor, but really tastes like tea. The dryness really makes this crisp and it doesn’t linger on the pallet. It kind of washes over and really makes you want to go in for a second sip.

And I don’t taste much alcohol at all, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, but it really does make it so smooth and refreshing and easy to drink. I can see this being a big hit at a summer party or just hanging out with some friends. I can tell you right now, I don’t think this gallon is gonna last very long.

Of all the popular alcoholic beverages I’ve made, this might be my favorite. It’s got more character than a seltzer and it’s easier to make than hard kombucha. And what I love the most about it is that you know everything that goes into it and you get some health benefits from the tea.

Speaking of which, I would love to change this up and try different kinds of teas and different kinds of fruit flavors. The options are endless. So if you do make this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram at the Bru Sho or post some pics on the Discord server. I’d love to see what you make.

And I also wanted to say a big thank you to everyone that subscribed. I recently hit 5,000 subscribers, which is a huge milestone. Thanks for watching and cheers.

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