Sunday, May 13, 2012

Scoby Dooby Brew

Black tea kombucha on the left, green/white tea kombucha on the right.

Sometimes I amaze myself. No seriously. It has nothing to do with pride either. Anyone who has ever walked out of the public bathroom at Target with the paper toilet seat cover attached to the bottom of their boot knows no pride.

Not that I have firsthand knowledge of that...

Kombucha is one of those things that surprised even me. I know that drinking kombucha regularly helps with digestion. I know that it helps to detoxify the body, is rich in anti-oxidants, and boosts the immune system. And while I've enjoyed many bottles of the store-bought stuff (at a ridiculous $2.99/bottle), the thought of making it myself was downright intimidating. And lets be honest here-it just seems wrong. For anyone who hasn't a clue of what I'm talking about, here it is in a take perfectly good sweet tea, add a slimy, not-from-this-world entity, place it in a dark cupboard, and let it rot. (Sort of.)

Then you drink it.

And you like it.

Unless you forget to strain it first. But I'll get back to that in a moment...

There are many websites devoted to the making of kombucha, so I'll let you Google those for the "how-to's", but I'll share some tips I've learned in my own kombucha journey. Kombucha is tea + water + sugar + a scoby. Scoby is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Yeast and Bacteria and should never be confused with Scooby Doo. To keep them separate, I've named mine Karl. A scoby (otherwise known as a "mother" or a "mushroom") can be grown from a starter culture, from a friend's baby scoby (they multiply), or even made from store-bought, raw kombucha.

Sweetened black tea before the scoby is added.

1. When making a gallon of kombucha, heat 4 cups filtered water until almost boiling. Add 4 tea bags (black, green, white, oolong, loose-leaf, etc.) and let steep for 15 minutes. Squeeze the teabags and add 1 cup organic sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Pour into a gallon jar. Add 8 cups of room temperature filtered water to the jar and stir again. The tea will be the perfect temperature for the scoby. (Too hot will kill Karl.) Add the scoby and starter liquid to the tea. (It should be 1-2 cups liquid from a previous batch.) Place a towel or coffee filter over the top and secure with a rubber band. (Big thanks to my friend Sarah for the brewing tip and for Karl!)

2. Kombucha likes to ferment in the dark. It likes to be left alone. It also like peace and quiet.  Especially when in the bathroom. Oh wait, that last one is me. But it's never going to happen. A girl can dream though...

The brew should be left alone for at least 7 days. Smell it to make sure it smells vinegary, but not like rotting garbage. If it's the latter, you'll need to toss it and start over with a new culture.

An over-the-fridge cabinet is a perfect place for the kombucha~and with a boost, maybe Mom.

 3. Fermenting kombucha is kind of artsy looking. And nothing to be alarmed about. The picture below is my green/white kombucha at 10 days. This scoby was on it's second batch, so it is fairly new. We grew this one from the store-bought kombucha.

The yeast strands are a sign that the kombucha is healthy.

4. Kombucha is best when it's flavored. Because the bacteria feeds on the sugar, the tea is no longer sweet. Some people like to drink kombucha plain, but flavoring it makes it palatable for everyone.

Never use metal when working with kombucha~you can find plastic mesh strainers online.

Here are some of our favorite flavorings~

*Fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a chunk of peeled ginger
*Lemon juice with a handful of blueberries (if using frozen, thaw slightly first)
*Organic mixed berry juice (100% juice)
*Cherry juice and fresh-squeezed lime juice
*Cherry juice and pure vanilla extract
*Fresh-squeezed lemon and lime
*Elderberry (we use dried)

5. After kombucha is flavored, it can be placed back in the dark cabinet (with a tightly screwed on plastic lid) and left to build up carbonation for 2-3 more days. If carbonation isn't your thing, or you're really impatient, you can drink it now. Personally, I think the added carbonation is worth the wait.

It's best to mark it on a calendar just in case the memory isn't what it used to be.

6. Flavored and carbonated kombucha is best served over ice.

After it's been strained.

Because if you don't strain it, the little baby scoby that will start to form on top of your beverage may or may not cause the gagging reflex to kick into overdrive. Especially if it gets stuck and just sort of dangles down the back of the throat. Which could cause a person to not want to drink kombucha ever again.

Which is why I'm so amazed at myself.

I've mastered the art of straining.☺

This post is linked to The Homestead Barn Hop.

This post is linked to The Morristribe's Homesteader Blog Carnival.


mzkynd said...

Just did up my 2nd batch ever this weekend :) I was so happy to get a scoby from a friend, those 3$ price tags were not making me happy :P

SweetLand Farm said...

Just started drinking and making my own komboucha. just finished my first batch, and the kiddos like it too. I'm going to try the flavored kind next!!

Candy C. said...

Thanks for this great post but I'm just not ready for a Karl yet...

Deanna Caswell said...

I am so ASKEERT of kombucha. Silly, I know. anyway, I'm stopping in to invite you to a new DIY linky tomorrow at Please come?

Kris said...

Hey Kim. Is this your first batch? I have been making mine for a little over 3 years. I love it. I have been selling the scoby babies at the market. It's so good for you too.

Kim said...

Kris~It wasn't my first was my third! Does that make me a seasoned "booch" maker? :) Great idea selling the babies at market!