1 Gallon Water
Honey, 5 Lb. for Sweet, 4 for dryish
1 in. Cinnamon Stick
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
4 litre wine jug empty
1 gallon jug, empty
Vapor lock (also known as a fermentation lock) w/ rubber stopper with hole in the center ("the bubbler")
Clear plastic tubing (food grade)
Cork + whatever type of bottles you intend to store it in when it's done.
While bringing water to a good roiling boil:
Add tea bag, use your favorite herbed/spiced tea. Note this is to provide the tannin, so be sure it has some real tea in it. I use always use Vanilla Almond tea from The Republic of Tea and sometimes add Constant Comment from Bigelow and/ or Chai Spice tea from Stash
Add lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon stick
Remove tea bag (s) when brew is a light amber…really weak tea.
Add honey once water is boiling…keep the jars of honey in a warm place (like a pan of hot water) so it's easier to pour. Save one of the jars and a lid.
When the pot returns to boil, begin skimming off the foam. Yeah, this removes the zest, that's why we put it in early.
When you are sick and tired of skimming, and have most if not all the foam gone, and the thing has been boiling for around 45 minutes or more, turn off the heat and cover and let cool.
When the proto-mead is down to around 95 Degrees F. dip out about 1/4 cup and dissolve yeast into it.
Clean the larger wine jug out really really well. Rinse thoroughly with lots o' hot water. And let cool
Put the big jar in the sink, in case you spill. Using the funnel, pour the yeast mixture into the jug. Then pour in the proto-mead, only filling to the bottom of the neck.
If you use 5 lb. of honey you will probably have some proto-mead remaining. If making sweet mead, pour it into one of the empty honey jars, put on the lid and put it into the fridge. You'll use it later. If trying for a dryer mead you can discard the remaining proto- mead.
Fill the bubbler/ airlock about 1/2 full of water.
You should start to see the bubbles shortly. The better you mixed the yeast the longer it takes to start bubbling, but that's a good thing. Too active too soon and it will foam into the bubbler. If that does happen, just rinse out the bubbler and put it back on.
For the first 12 days shake the mead daily. Doesn't have to be a lot of shaking, just enough to wake up the yeasties and get them going. Let it sit quietly for 2 more days
First decanting: The Splash
Clean the gallon jug very well. Siphon the mead into the gallon jug, allowing it to splash onto the bottom. Siphon off as much as you can, try not to disturb the residue at the bottom. You should be able to get a gallon out of it easy enough.
Replace the bubbler and let the mead sit quietly for a week. Wash the 4 litre jug out very well.
Siphon the mead into the wine jug, no splashing this time, let it run down the inside of the jug. Once again, leave the residue. Transferring from the gallon to the wine jug will leave the jug not quite full. If making sweet mead use the remaining proto- mead from the fridge. If making dryer mead, use water to top off to the neck.
Let sit quietly for another week.
From the 4 litre jug to the gallon jug. Let sit quietly another week.
Continue alternating until the mead clears. Once clear, the alcohol content should be around 12%, a goodly wine. A hygrometer will give you an exact reading. The percent alcohol is a factor of how much honey is dissolved, so you need to take a reading before fermentation. Bottle as you will. Make sure it's done fermenting or there is the distinct possibility that your bottles may burst if tightly sealed. To stabilize the mead for long periods, you may add a crushed Campden tablet, these contain sulfites and act as preservatives. If you use one it should be added at the 3rd decanting. These tablets are found in the same stores that you can find the yeast and the fermentation locks.