I promised this post a while ago, sorry for the delay! The Mr. keeps telling me that my absence on the blogosphere has been quite evident lately 😦 I don’t have an excuse other than I need more hours in the day!
Some of you may be wondering what the heck kombucha is and why in the world I’m “brewing” it. Keeping it simple, it is fermented sweet tea. And it’s been around for a helluva long time. Remember all my kitchen pets I alluded to when I posted about the importance of breakfast…? Well, this is one of them.
I have a big SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) that I feed sweetened black tea to. It “eats” the sugar and caffeine in the tea and leaves me with a wonderful, fizzy fermented tea to drink every day. The finished kombucha is loaded with probiotics and beneficial bacteria to promote gut health, boost immunity, aid in digestion, as well as having a “detoxing” effect on the liver. As you know, you can find a myriad of claims for just about anything on the internet, so while I won’t necessarily buy into all of them, I do think that it provides enough possible health benefits to make it worth my while. Plus, I got such a good deal on a bulk purchase of organic black tea so it’s really super cheap to make. I also actually like this stuff, believe it or not 😉
Since the SCOBY is converting all the sugar…you’re not really ingesting much sugar at all, if any. It’s quite strong and vinegar-like actually, pretty sure there’s no trace of sugar in my stuff…sometimes a sip of it will put some hair on my chest. Haha. Not cute.
I got started about 3 months ago when a friend of mine (two, actually) split their SCOBY and shared with me. The SCOBY grows bigger and bigger with every brew. It basically gives birth to a baby SCOBY by adding a new top layer to itself, so it keeps getting thicker every time you feed it more sweetened tea. So, I got SCOBY from a friend and bought all my equipment. I knew I wanted to drink this stuff consistently, so I opted to do the continuous brew method and went right for a 2.5 gallon crock. The continuous brew method basically means that you just keep the SCOBY in the crock, feed it sweetened tea, and when you pour the finished kombucha off a few days later (leaving some remaining to act as your starter liquid), you simply refill the crock with fresh tea and it goes right back to work.
I’m not going to go into all of the nitty gritty details of exactly how much tea or sugar to use, because there are just so many variations. But the basic concept is that you need to use a caffeinated tea, dissolve pure cane sugar into it while hot, and wait until it reaches room temperature before you feed the beast. I use organic black tea in bags, but you can use green tea, white tea, or a combination of different teas in bags or loose leaf form. You can find fancy organic loose leaf kombucha tea blends that I’m sure would be great. It also must be cane sugar (I use the organic cane sugar from Costco)…no sucanat, rapadura, coconut sugar, honey, etc. This link has a helpful chart that’ll tell you how much tea, starter tea, water, and sugar to use depending on the size of your container.
The brewing time will vary quite a bit based on a number of different things. Anything from the temperature of your house, the size of your SCOBY, the diameter of your container, and your personal taste preferences will determine how many days you let it ferment. The longer it ferments, the stronger and more vinegary it’ll taste. I believe the recommended time is 7-30 days. Honestly, I have found that 5-7 days in my house yields a pretty darn strong brew…not sure if I could handle anything more than 8 or so days.
Lastly, you can drink your kombucha plain or flavor it with whatever you want after you’ve bottled your finished kombucha. We like lemon ginger the best. I simply add lemon and ginger slices to my bottles and store them in the fridge that way. I also add berries sometimes, and recently I threw in some pomegranate seeds. If you add any kind of sweetener (such as a fruit juice or additional sugar), you can let it sit in an air-tight container at room temperature for another couple of days for a second fermentation. It’ll get really fizzy and basically turn into kombucha soda…kinda cool!
And, by the way, I’m no kombucha expert here, so if you’re interested in reading more about it, check out these sites:
Do you brew kombucha? How do you do it? Favorite flavors? I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. My original SCOBY got so thick that I decided to trim it down and create a “SCOBY Hotel.” It’s basically my backup in case I somehow kill mine. These pieces of SCOBY are covered in kombucha and as far as I understand, they will pretty much keep indefinitely in a cool dark place. I also read that I could dehydrate them and treat the dog to some SCOBY jerky! I might try that one of these days 😉