Monday, August 4, 2008

kombucha! - starting from scratch

" The culture floats atop an infusion of tea and sugar, and through the natural process of fermentation converts the sugar into organic acids and carbon dioxide. At the same time it produces a variety of other compounds that are detoxifying and nutritious to the human body, including gluconic, lactic, and folic acids. The resultant mixture is high in B-vitamins as well as an assortment of pro-biotics (beneficial bacteria including lactobacillus acidophilus and s.Boulardii). " (from the katalyst kombucha site)

ok, here it is, how i grew my own scoby (stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)

i've read some stuff saying that it cant be done and that if it is the scoby isnt healthy, doesnt make good tea etc. i've also read things from people who did it fine themselves, so i decided to try! mine looks pretty darn healthy so far! the first batch i harvested too early by accident. i didnt realize how sweet it was until it was too late. as an after thought i might have put too much sugar in bc it was really tart but really sweet at the same time. also the scoby was not full grown and probably couldnt do its best work. also lots of people sterilize their jars and equitment and stuff but i never do, if you want to you can wash it out with very hot water before you start.

heres what i did:
1 gallon glass jar

2 bottles of raw kombucha (i used GT's) at room temperature

1 cup sugar (the first time i used rapadura but it was very strong tasting. im using whitish organic refined sugar now but its not ready yet.)

5-6 tea bags -green/ black or both
boil water and add to tea bags and sugar. steep and let cool overnight.
its best not to use any metal in the process. some people say not even to boil the water in metal but i do and its been fine. definitely put it in a glass jar or bowl though. and cover it GOOD, like with two layers of cloth with a tight elastic around the top to make sure nothing gets in but fresh air. keep it somewhere dark like acloset or cabinet but open it everyonce in a while so fresh air gets in.

it started out as bubbly scummy lookin stuff on the top. then it grows into a film that covers the top layer of the tea.

the layers keep building up and getting thicker. mine have all been thicker on one side than the other.

top view: one side is thicker. the white part is the thickest part.

getting thicker

my tea seems to take at least 3-4 weeks but i like to make sure theres really no sugar left. it also depends on the temperature of you house. i usually check on mine every couple of days to poke the scoby down a little into the tea if its floating on the top. this will keep away any bad bacteria that might be on the top. nothing can really live down in the tea though. if you think it might be ready you can taste a spoonful.

once its ready you do a second ferment with a top on the jar so no air gets in. this will make the kombucha bubbly and you can add flavor too.

divide into smaller airtight jars and add a tablespoon of something sweet like juice or pureed fruit (make sure it is very smooth). you could put in sugar too if you dont want it flavored, maybe less than a tablespoon then.

ferment for a few days to a week then put it in fridge!

oh yeah, if you've grown your own scoby you might or might not have a baby after your first ferment. mine didnt, so i just took it and put it in new tea. after that you should have a new baby every ferment.

heres the scoby once its was done with its job . . . waiting for the next batch

when your ready to start a new batch you can have you tea/sugar mix ready and cooled. it must be at room temp so it doesnt kill the culture but is warm enough to ferment. for a gallon you will need the same tea/sugar ratio as i used to start the scoby but this this time you can use less finished kombucha. 2 cups should be fine, make sure you keep some from you previous batch before bottling.

thats it!

update: my last batch came out awsome! i put a couple small apples and about a 6 tablespoon sized chunck of ginger into my juicer and used that for the flavor. it was SO good. waiting for my next batch i bought ginger flavored brew from the store and it was nothin compare to mine!!!

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