Wednesday, April 30, 2014

home brewed kombucha

I recently won a kombucha workshop through my son's preschool. This was totally up my alley! I am a fair weathered kombucha drinker, except when I'm having stomach upset (read: plugged up) and then I have a favorite farmer's market stall where they sell it for $6 a jar. Yeah, my constipation can be very expensive.

So when I had the opportunity to learn how to home brew my own, I was so excited!

Please note that this is not a tutorial on how to make Kombucha (I'll leave that to the experts) but I just wanted to share my experience so those who haven't done this before could have a better understanding (and perhaps I'll inspire some home brewers?)

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has it's roots in ancient Chinese culture and becomes carbonated as it brews. It is an acquired taste that can be altered with fruit and herbs or other flavorings. 

To make Kombucha, you need a SCOBY ( symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) Sounds kind of gross, right? Well it looks even more disgusting. I liken it to a mucous plug. Delicious!

So, this mother scoby has these flat pancake like babies each time she ferments. So, my friend gave me one of her baby scobys and I was off and running. 

Basically, in a big glass vat, (the largest mason jar I could find) I placed water containing two bags worth of brewed tea and then 2/3 of a cup of sugar. I let the sugar melt into the water, then I filled my large vessel all the way up to the top with filtered water. I gently placed my scoby at the top, allowing it to float gently. I then place a paper towel over the top and made it stay in place with a rubber band. 

I keep my kobmucha in my dining room credenza where it is dark and not too hot. I let it sit for a full week. The scoby works hard eating the sugar I added and spitting out kombucha goodness in return. 

A week later, I removed the jar and prepared my little mason jars for a second fermentation. This is where the kombucha becomes carbonated and this is where you can add flavors. I decided to go with fresh strawberries, ginger and mango in various combinations. I poured the brewed tea over the fresh fruit strips (you can use juice or dried fruit) and I will let it sit for three days outside the fridge where the bubbles will form and then 5 more days in the fridge to continue to ferment. The longer you let it sit, the more vinegary it tastes (some people leave it for 3 weeks.) The less it sits, the sweeter it is. I like mine somewhere in between. 

The stuff is chalk full of probiotics. 
To read about how to brew it, try here
To read about health benefits, look here!

This was my second batch….nectarine and ginger, kiwi and ginger and plain ole cherry. Five more days til I can try them! 

I hope you're not eating….here's the part where I post a photo of my scoby……not for the faint of heart. But I love this photo because you can see the baby mushroom that is spawning from the mother. Eventually, (and rather quickly I might add) it will spread out to be the width of the fermentation jar. 

My scoby is making babies every week, so if you and I happen to be "real life" friends and you want a scoby, I'm happy to share!! The rest of you can look into ordering online scobys through the following company. 

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