Ok my pretties, I promised a blog post about my experience of brewing my first Kombucha (Kom-boo-cha) batch.
I’ve bought this amazing fermented drink filled with probiotics numerous times. It is a little bit tart and a little bit sweet. It is basically a fermented tea. I have a couple of coworkers that brew their own and they have brought me samples to taste. It really put a spark to my curiosity. You mean I can make my own? My daughter mentioned that she loved this stuff. I did a bit of research and found several items on Amazon and bought a few of the necessary supplies for her as a Christmas gift. She has made several batches and has really enjoyed it. I finally made the decision to finally try my own experiment.
I went to Amazon and bought a few of my own supplies. I knew I needed a gallon glass jar (never use plastic, metal or pottery). I also bought a book and some 16z beer bottles. (if you click on the picture, it will link you to Amazon)
The first thing you need is a SCOBY (Symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). My daughter gave me one of her SCOBY’s. If you don’t have someone to donate one to you. Amazon also sells them. I bought one as part of her Christmas kit.
I sterilized everything before I started . (I am a little anal about cleanliness. After all I am married to a Microbiologist.)
16-20 tea bags. (I used Stash – Green Tea decaf)
1 Cup evaporated Cane Sugar (Do not used processed white sugar. Remember….. think healthy.)
14 Cups filter water. (If you have chlorinated water, let it sit for about 30 minutes for the chlorination to evaporate.)
2 Cups pure fruit juice. (fresh squeezed, bottled, your own juiced fruits etc)
2 Cups of Kombucha (for my first batch, I used store bought Synergy Green tea at room temperature. You can find this in the produce section at local stores. Or refrigerated section at organic stores such as Whole Foods, or Rosaurs)
8 16z beer bottles with tops
Heat 6 Cups of filtered water to 170 degrees. (around 200 if using black tea) Add 16-20 tea bags. Cover with a lid and let seep for 4 minutes.
Remove the tea bags. Add 1 Cup of can sugar and stir to dissolve while tea is still hot. (never use metal tools to stir)
Add the 8 Cups of filtered water to your gallon jar. Then add the hot tea to the gallon jar. (this will cool the tea quicker.)
Let the tea cool to 70-75 degrees. Once tea is cool, add 2 Cups of Kombucha and gently stir Now gently add your SCOBY. It will float on the top of the tea. Cover the jar with a cotton towel. Never use cheese cloth, it is too porous. ( I use a white cotton flour sack towel.) Wrap a rubber band around it to hold it on.
Keep the brewing tea in a warm area to brew. The tea needs to stay between 70-75 degrees. If it gets too cool, the SCOBY may die. If it gets too warm, bacteria and mold can grow and contaminate the SCOBY and tea. This rarely happens. You have to be very careless to grow mold.
After 7 days, get a clean straw, stick it under the growing SCOBY and sip a small taste. Is it tart enough for you? If not, let it sit a day or two longer…You don’t want it to over ferment. 7 days turned out to be perfect for me. Do not be alarmed if you see brown yeast stands growing. I kind of freaked and text my daughter then googled it. I was reassured that everything looked like it should.
It is now time to bottle the brew. Sterilize your bottles, including the tops. You want to be sure to get bottles that withstand pressure. The second fermentation adds the fizziness and zing to the Kombucha.
Gently remove the SCOBY and put in a sterile container along with 2 Cups of the tea.
I then poured my Kombucha, through a strainer into a gallon pitcher. This will catch most of the yeast strands. I then added 2 cups of room temperature fruit juice to the Kombucha. (I bought some organic concentrated Pomegranate juice and made my own.)
Gently stir the tea. It is now ready to add to the bottles. My funnel was a little to big so I had to gently pour directly into the bottles. I then tightened down the tops. This was the hardest part of the entire process. (my batch make 7 3/4 bottles.)
It then had to sit for two more day (2nd fermentation) at room temperature. It is now ready to put in the fridge. You must do this to stop the fermentation. It can turn very vinegary. (some people do this on purpose so they can use for homemade dressings)
You can now use your SCOBY for a second batch. My SCOBY is a little bigger and not quite ready to separate. Each batch grows, or starts growing a baby SCOBY which can be separated and given to a friend, or you can put them in your current jar of tea you’re brewing or you can keep in their own jar which some call a SCOBY hotel.
I have pinned quite a few links with ideas and helpful hits for brewing your own SCOBY. I encourage you to read some of them and read the health benefits of drinking a glass of Kombucha a day. My Fermented foods board also includes links to other homemade fermented products such as yogurt, kimchee, kefir and more. You can find it HERE. (or click on the picture.)
Now it is time for the taste test. Sometimes little SCOBY’s or yeast strands will start growing in the bottles. After refrigerating they will sink to the bottom. It is important not to shake the bottle to mix things up. (Keep them on the bottom.) You will also see this in store bought Kombucha.
The results are in….. I may need to add 1 more day of brewing before the 2nd fermentation. My Kombucha is very mild but tastes great.
The second batch is now on day 2 of brewing.
What are you waiting for? People have been brewing this for thousands of years. It first started in Russia then gradually moved around the world. I found one Instagrammer that has used the same SCOBY for over 20 years. Isn’t that amazing?!
If you decide to wait between batches, simply put your SCOBY in the fridge so it will be dormant and be ready when you are.
Be brave and try it. I suggest you go buy one at the store and taste test to see if you even like it before you invest the money to start brewing your own.
Let your inner Biologist out to explore!