In the past several months I have developed a strong liking and inclination for kombucha. For those of you who don’t know what kombucha is, let me explain. Kombucha is a fermented tea that is cultured with a mushroom “SCOBY” and sugar. Okay, okay, I know that sounds effing nasty. Well…. I mean lots of fermented foods sound gross in theory, but then when someone produces some amazing sauerkraut, kim chi, cheese, or Worcestershire sauce it’s easy to forget the process and just enjoy the taste. Food preservation and discovery is fascinating and is what makes us as people so special and wonderful. I don’t know who first let their tea sit out for way too long and then had the nerve to drink it, but I’m glad they did. PLUS – there are quite a few health benefits from drinking Kombucha – it aids in digestion, helps detox the liver, and although no super scientific research has been done people just say it makes the body feel better. I can totally jive with all those claims, but the bottom line for me is that it’s tasty as hell.
Anyways, buying kombucha at the health food store can set you back $4 a bottle and believe me this stuff is the jam – so the cost suddenly becomes pretty obvious when you get a full blown kombucha addiction rolling. I started thinking about brewing my own especially because I have SO MUCH amazing tea from T-we Tea in San Francisco (btw the boys at T-we Tea are the most wonderful small business owners ever). So I started doing research about brewing my own kombucha….. There are many ‘how to’ and ‘101s’ online and after reading enough it was obvious the ‘fail-proof’ method for starting a successful SCOBY was to buy one. I used Kombucha Kamp as my SCOBY provider and used the kombucha mamma’s guidelines to brew my own. You can buy a ‘mother’ SCOBY for around $20 and that will yield countless gallon brews. PLUS each brew creates a new ‘baby’ SCOBY that you can transfer to a new gallon glass jar and thus yield another gallon! Straight up every brew MULTIPLIES! I bought 2 to start because – well go big or go home I guess.
For my tea, again I used Twe-Tea. I’m an addict of theirs so it was natural to use their product. I have brewed Flailing Princess (a darjeeling with coconut and rose petals), Ooh Laa Cocolong (a jade oolong with coconut ribbons), and Guurl Grey ( sri lankan ceylon with orange peel and jasmine). All three have produced very tasty kombucha. I have also added ginger juice to several of the kombuchas after I bottled them.
My first brew experience went something like this:
1. Day 1 :Brew tea / mix as directions said – add SCOBY. Cover with normal muslin and put in kitchen cupboard. Giggle and wait.
2. Day 5 : WHAT THE FUCK ARE THESE BUGS IN MY TEA?!
3. Day 5- Day 6 : Dump the maggot tea – Retained both mother SCOBYs and let ‘sit’ in small container to see if maggots had infested MOTHERS. coupled with panicked research and Kombucha horror stories.
4. Day 7 : “I spent $40 on these mother-f*cking SCOBYs and by jove I’m not gonna waste them – I don’t see any bugs/larvae – eff it! let’s do this again.’
5. Day 8 : Re-brew tea / mix as directed – add non-bug SCOBYs. Cover with super tight doubled up muslin, create ‘fruit fly trap’, put in kitchen cupboard.
6. Day 9-23 : Compulsively check kombucha brews for fruit-flies and any other abnormalities. Deep Breathes everyday as it actually was going well.
7. Day 24 : Time to taste test this….. please don’t taste like barf….. WOW DELICIOUS!
8. Day 25 : Bottle 2 gallons on Kombucha. Add ginger to 1/2 dozen jars. Start new Kombucha brews.
9. Day 25 – 40 : Enjoy my own Kombucha!
I’ve successfully brewed and fermented two batches of two teas from my SCOBYs so far. I absolutely LOVE how my brew tastes too. I did finally get the nerve to have someone taste the tea and they said it was so great! Huzzah! Anyways – this experiment was totally worth it. Aside from the maggot hiccup on batch #1, I have the method down already. I’m thinking I’ll split my SCOBYs tonight and start 4 batches this time! Making stuff is so fun!