Kombucha – my new fave fizzy drink

kombuchaI first heard about kombucha on DaNelle Wolford’s blog Weed ’em and Reap.  Something healthy that tastes awesome?? I had to try it!  I was afraid that, like so many other things that sound great to me (yes, I’ve had plenty of flops learning experiences), I would be disappointed with the results.  Well, this stuff is AWESOME!!  The best way to describe the taste is like a bubbly iced tea.

I won’t go into the history and science here, but there are lots of places you can read up about it online – my favorites include the one mentioned above, Kombucha Brooklyn , and this one on continuous brew at Wellness Mama.  I’m so excited about my kombucha that I decided to make it my first “DIY” blog post.  I’ll be sharing the continuous brew method because 1. Its really not much different than the regular method and 2. its easier on the scoby and for me 🙂

First, you need a scoby (a what???)  A SCOBY is literally a “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.”  I think its pretty cool, my dd thinks its totally gross.  *If you scobydon’t already know, there are many more good bacteria in our world and at work in/on our bodies than bad bacteria, and all these bacteria work in symbiosis with our system to keep us healthy…  The best way to get one would be to find out if you have a friend who can give an extra to you.  You can also order one, or grow your own from a store-bought bottle of raw, unpasteurized, unflavored kombucha. (directions coming soon!)

What you will need to start 1 gallon of kombucha:

kombucha ingredients

  •  SCOBY & 2 cups of starter ‘buch OR at SCOBY and 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup White sugar – just use cheap white sugar!  (you can research substitutes, but white sugar is best, especially if you’re just starting out!)
  •  Total of 10 bags plain unflavored black tea, or a combo of black, green, and white.  (You can use loose, organic tea, but I used what I had on hand) Black tea feeds your scoby the best, so keep that in mind!  I use 4 black, 3 green, and 3 white bags because I love the flavor.  DON’T use flavored or herbal tea, the oils in them may harm your scoby.  You can add flavorings later.
  • Glass 1 gal. or larger wide-mouth jar with a plastic spigot near the bottom.  (You don’t want any metal to touch your brew – it may kill it) I use an old sun-tea jar I got on sale at Walmart, although I have my eye on a nice 2.5 gal one I saw at HomeGoods…

Make sure everything has been cleaned with hot, soapy water!

Step One:

Start by brewing your tea – boil about 4 cups water and let your tea steep for the recommended 2-3 min.  Add in your 1 cup of sugar.  You will have to let this cool to room temp. before adding your scoby.  *The first time I did this, I boiled a whole gallon of water and it took hours to cool down!! – I ended up having to put it in the fridge overnight and my ‘buch got off to a cold start.BUT if the liquid is too hot, it will kill your scoby (just like hot water can kill the yeast in your bread dough.)

Step Two:

After it has cooled most of the way, you can place your tea in your glass container and add cool, filtered water to total a gallon with your scoby and starter liquid.    *Remember, this is either a scoby & 2 cups starter ‘buch or a scoby and 1/4 cup white vinegar.

With clean hands, transfer your scoby and liquid to the jar.  The scoby may sink to the bottom, rise to the top, or hang out somewhere in the middle – its all fine!  A new one will form on top of your brew.

Step Three:

Put a towel or cheesecloth on top and secure with a rubber band.  Place in a warm, out-of-the way place and let brew for at least 5-7 days.   Kombucha will brew best around 75 degrees F.  Mine did best in the cupboard over my stove, with the door propped slightly open for air flow.   *If you are like me you will end up having to peek – don’t be alarmed by what you see!  The new scoby can look VERY MUCH like mold when it is growing!  For photos to help look here.  (scroll down to the topic “yeast vs. mold” to see some the very helpful photos.)

That’s it!  After 5-7 days you can stick a straw down into your jar and start tasting.  I like mine on the sweet, mild side, so generally at the 7 day mark I bottle it and start my next batch.  A friend of mine likes hers vinegary so she lets it go almost a month!

Next post:

Bottling, flavoring, and starting your next batch, plus other tips…

 

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