Throughout its history, inventive mead makers have been sipping their product and thinking, “what would it taste like if I added……?” At King of Cups we are no exception and in addition to our traditional mead we currently produce a selection of flavoured meads including Dragons’ Breath, a chilli mead (not for the faint of heart!) and our now legendary Viking’s Blood, which has cherry juice included to give a blood red colour and intense flavour.
- Traditional Mead
- Vikings Blood (Cherry Mead)
- Spiced Apple Mead
- Dragons Breath (Chilli Mead)
Mead is a deceptively simple alcoholic drink – honey is dissolved in water and fermented. Aside from water it is the oldest drink in the world! Archaeologists in China have recently found pottery shards that, when analysed, provided organic compounds that were created during fermentation of honey. These shards were dated to 7,000 BCE, which would make mead production over 9,000 years old!
The oldest written reference to mead is found in the Rig Veda, one of the four sacred texts of Hinduism, which was written around 1500 BCE. There it is called ‘Madhu’ meaning sweet alcohol and it is not hard to see how that word has, over the centuries, changed into our word Mead. The Greeks and the Romans both wrote about mead. Pliny the Elder (23CE – 79CE) – when he wasn’t watching Mount Versuvius erupt – wrote about it and was careful to alert his readers to the difference between true mead and “inferior wine sweetened with honey” – a deplorable practice still occurring today!
As grapes began to be grown more widely and wine grew in popularity, mead ceased to be the drink of choice throughout the Roman Empire, although it was still popular where grapes could not be grown, especially the dark, northern lands where it gained a place in the mythology of the Scandanavian peoples. They saw it as a gift from the Gods and the Sagas have many references to it – as the Mead of Inspiration and the Mead of Poetry to name but two. There simply isn’t enough space here to go into too much detail, but one of the myths tells how at the root of Yggdrasil the world tree is a spring of purest mead…
The flavour of mead comes from the honey being used and the flavour of the honey depends on the flowers that the bees have been visiting. So potentially there are as many flavours of mead as there are flowers! The bees who make the honey we use live near Maldon in Essex, and mainly visit clover and wildflowers, giving our mead a light and delicate flavour.
From its’ ancient origins, the story of mead is interwoven with the story of man. After a brief decline, mead is now regaining its’ position as a contemporary drink, no longer the preserve of the monks. A brief search of the web will turn up stories about the health benefits of honey and the revival of mead – for example, did you know there is a mead bar in New York city? Not that you have to travel to the US -here at King of Cups we will continue to provide the best mead we can possibly make. We look forward to you trying some!