Kombucha babies, of course!
What did you think I meant 😉
(If you have no idea what I am talking about, you might want to read this post about kombucha)
Over the past 6 weeks I have successfully brewed three batches of kombucha from start to finish. I have learned so much since I first started and become a lot more comfortable with the process. While I still am experimenting with different flavors and brewing times, I have been really pleased with the product!
Here are my basic instructions:
4 bags of tea, green or black. Stay away from flavored teas such as Earl Grey, because it can kill the SCOBY
1 cup sugar
1 large (6-8 cup) glass container
2-3 glass bottles for your kombucha
1 mason jar for your SCOBY
1 breathable cloth
1 large rubber band
fruit juice (optional)
1. Brew 4 cups of tea-green or black. I use regular Lipton.
Add a cup of sugar and stir until fully combined. Let it cool for about 4 hours
2. Pour the tea into a large glass container with a lip. My container is 6 cups.
With clean hands, add the SCOBY and liquid starter (about one cup). Try and slide the SCOBY on top of the tea-sometimes this works for me, sometimes not.
3. Cover with a thin cloth and secure with a rubber band. This allows the SCOBY to breathe, but protects it from bugs/other containments.
Store it in a warm (75 degrees is optimal in my experience), dark place.
4. After about a week, check on your brew. I use a straw to capture a little bit of the brew and taste (do not drink directly from the straw). The optimal brew will be a little sweet and carbonated. It will take more time to get a carbonated brew in colder temperatures, but be patient it will happen!
5. When you feel your brew is ready, collect clean glass bottles (I reuse GT’s Kombucha bottles) and a mason jar. Carefully remove the SCOBY and place in the mason jar. Pour about a cup of the brew into the jar with the SCOBY. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to make your next batch.
Next pour your kombucha into the glass bottles. At this time, you can also add any fruit juice you desire. I have read that clear juices produce a better result. You only need about 1/4 cup of juice.
6. Store your bottles in a dark place for 72 hours. I find it helpful to “burp” the bottles in order to control the carbonation after this period. Next put the bottles in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before drinking.
Before beginning the process I read tons of articles and blog posts online about the optimal brewing method. A lot of people had strict guidelines regarding every aspect of the brewing process in order to not kill the SCOBY. However, I have not really followed most of them and have loved my kombucha so far.
While it might seem labor-intensive at first, brewing requires very little hands-on time. I usually just put my glass jar in the pantry and forget about it for the rest of the week. The hardest part was actually finding a SCOBY with which to start my batch. I tried the method of pouring a bottle of kombucha into sweet tea, but it did not yield results. I ended up getting my SCOBY from a local lady selling them on Craigslist for $5 (a little more than the cost of 1 bottle).
Kristen at The Food Renegade has an awesome post on how to brew kombucha that I followed religiously for my first batches. I really appreciated that Kristen added this little caveat: “Everyone will swear doing this or that particular thing will make the beverage more healthful for you-and often the advice is contradictory. My point? Relax. Just do it. Enjoy it.”
Her advice helped me relax a bit, although I totally freaked out while making my first batch. The whole time I was petrified of killing my SCOBY. I felt like I was in some intense surgery room a la Grey’s Anatomy.
Some articles I read emphasized the fact that you cannot use antibactical soap on your hands because it will killl the bacteria in the scoby. But simultaneously the brewing environment has to be very clean. I decided on the really hot water route and parboiled my hands and brewing jar to cleanliness. I finally worked up enough courage to actually take the big step and pick up the SCOBY to put it in the glass jar. I plopped it in and then felt the warm jar, which triggered a memory from one of the articles I read about not exposing the SCOBY to heat. So I swooped in and saved my baby.
Thus far, my baby has survived and is even making more babies despite its near death experience!
Last night, I passed one on to Kath so she can start her own brew. 🙂