Saturday, March 6, 2010
Another Kombucha Blog
Posted by Diana Renata
It seems like everybody's doing a blog on kombucha anymore. Yup, I'm going to do it too. Why? Two reasons. One- people are asking "What's this kombucha stuff?" and Two- I find it hard to accept people out there don't know about this "kombucha stuff."
Kombucha is fantastic, once you develope a taste for it, that is. I'd been curious about it for a while when one day I felt sick and sluggish, and I decided it was what I needed to jump start my system. I didn't want to spend the whole day feeling like crap, so I went to the store and bought a bottle. They didn't have a plain one, so I got one chuck full of spirulina and other green goodness. Being the adventurous type, the floaties in the bottle didn't bother me. I popped the cap and took a gulp. Woah! Tart, fizzy and WEIRD! I've been in love with the stuff ever since.
I spent a lot of money on kombucha before I learned I could make it at home, and that it's actually quite easy (and cheap!) I'm sipping a glass as I type this. It's become a staple of my diet now that I have a constant rotation brewing in my pantry. So what is it? It's a fermented tea. But don't worry, there is barely any measurable alcohol.
Getting started is easy. You can do one of two things. You can buy a scoby, or you can grow one. I bought my first scoby, then accidentally made one. I'll tell you how you can buy one later, but making one is pretty simple. All I did was buy a bottle of raw kombucha from the grocery store, drank some and forgot about the bottle on the counter for about a week and a half. Before I knew it, baby scoby! Really, that's all there is to it.
You're probably wondering what a scoby is. "Scoby" actually stands for "Symboitic Colony Of Bacteria & Yeast." Some call it a "mother" or a "mushroom." It sort of looks like a big rubbery pancake. I've had people compare it to a jellyfish as it sometimes grows root-like tentacles on the bottom.
Once you have your scoby, making kombucha is really easy. All you need is:
6-7 tea bags (green or black only. No herbal teas.)
A gallon of hot water
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of kombucha OR 1/4 cup white vinegar
Start by bringing a gallon of water to a boil. I use a big steamer pan and simmer the tea bags right in the pot.
Pour your hot tea into a large jar (be careful, Ball jars are known to break! Use a clean gallon pickle jar instead.)
Add a cup of sugar and either your kombucha or vinegar. Don't put your scoby in yet! You have to let your hot tea concoction cool to room temperature first. I usually cover my jar with a paper towel to keep dust out, and let it rest over night, or while I'm at work.
When the tea is cool, add your scoby.
Secure cloth over the top with a rubber band, place your jar in a cozy space and let it brew. My "booch" seems to brew happily at about 75 degrees in my pantry, as you can see. The jar on the right will be ready next weekend. The jar on the right I just removed the scobys from and secured the lid to begin carbonation.
- Ball jars break, even if the water isn't hot. Pickle jars are better.
- It helps to tie your tea bags together so you don't have to gather loose ends.
- Spigot jars are worth their weight in gold! The spigot makes sampling easy without disturbing your scoby.
- Ball's wire-top jars are great for adding carbonation, but the spigots on "sun tea" jars are easier to use.
- Dates are very important. Since I have about 4 jars brewing at any given time, writing the date your "booch" is done on a slip of paper or piece of masking tape and placing it with the jar is ever so helpful.
After your kombucha is done brewing (about 3 weeks, depending on how strong you like it,) remove your scoby and put a tight lid on your jar. Allow it to brew for an additional 3-7 days. This is where the carbonation builds up and makes your kombucha fizzy. It tastes fine without the fizz but most people prefer the carbonation.
If you want to add flavors to your kombucha, this would be the time to do it. Always add flavors AFTER you're done brewing.
After each brew you will find that you have grown a second scoby, so really when you obtain your first scoby that's all you need to start a rotation. One will beget two. Two will beget four, and so on. Sometimes scobys get old or look ugly. I just toss those ones out and keep the pretty ones.
Oh, one more note on the subject. Watch out for mold! If your kombucha develops mold, which doesn't happen very often, you have to start all over with a fresh batch and new scoby. You do NOT want to risk making yourself sick, or worse.