Khoisan Honey Mead

Ark of taste
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Khoisan Honey Mead


Honey mead or "honey wine" is believed by some to be one of the world’s oldest alcoholic drinks, dating back 15000 years. Khoisan People, of Southern Africa, is still producing with the ancient method as a mix of water and honey, fermented with naturally occurring yeast. Their name for it was “karri”, for the tree it was fermented in.
According to legend, it is believed that the Khoisan discovered a naturally fermented drink in the hollows of old trees, made from honey that dripped into the water filled hollow, then fermented naturally, inspiring them to make their own fermented drinks.
The finding of such natural mead is likely to have inspired many a honey gatherer in ancient times to duplicate the effects that created the mead in the tree. With time and trial and error the sophistication of this mead making process would have advanced.

Since Colonial times, imported alcoholic beverage recipes superseded the indigenous recipes, and have become the mainstream commercial drinks of choice, including for indigenous communities, who have also fallen into poverty as a result of alcohol dependency on Western type alcohols. The traditional African mead industry in South Africa may be heading for extinction. The natural ingredients used in the traditional recipes are also increasingly rare as a result of urbanization and degradation of the natural environment where the ingredients were traditionally collected. The loss of knowledge being passed down from older generations to the younger more Westernised descendants also plays a strong role in this decline.

The honey used for making Mead is from many species of savannah wildflowers (e.g., Portulacaria, Aloe, Psideroxylan, and Schotia) and trees such as the Acacia. Naturally Meads produced will have terroir-based flavours unique to their respective regions. Some Meads are sweet, others semi-sweet. and there are also some drier meads. Some more spicy than others.

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Distilled and fermented beverages

Indigenous community:Khoisan
Nominated by:Melissa de Billot