I love it, my family loves it. The Elixir of Life. Kombucha.
Kombucha is a fermented tea, and once the fermentation process is complete the brew contains a plethora of essential active cultures and acids. The cultures love our tummies and eat all the nasties growing in the depths of our bowels. Growing the mushroom, or SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), is easy and we like it because it's like having a living, slimy pancake for a pet.
Several months ago I began brewing my own kombucha, and since today was brewing day I enlisted Devi as my assistant. If you're feeling up to the task, here's a list of what you might need to do your own brew:
- 1 gallon glass container
- 1 big wooden spoon
- 2 rubber bands
- Muslin, enough to cover the mouth of the jar a couple of times
- 6 black, green, or a combination of both tea bags
- 4 tbsp vinegar (Some use distilled, I use Braggs)
- 1 cup of refined sugar* (NOTE: you may choose to use honey, sucanat, demerara, or pure cane sugar, but none of these are 100% fermentable. I know, I questioned it myself, but the culture eats all of the refined sugar. That's how it grows)
- 1 jar of original or unflavored kombucha (I started with GT Daves Original)
1. Bring six cups of filtered water to a boil. Remove from heat and begin steeping the tea bags. Let it steep for awhile, I wait ten minutes.
2. Remove the tea bags and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Pour the sweet tea into the gallon glass jar. At this point, fill the remainder of the jar (within four inches of the lip) with fresh, cold, filtered water. If the tea is too hot it will kill the culture. Cold water is a sufficient way to reduce the heat of the brew to be safe enough for adding the SCOBY, vinegar, or jar of prepared kombucha.
4. Add the vinegar and SCOBY, or if this is your first brew add the vinegar and the full jar of prepared kombucha. Be sure to get all the stringy goodness into the new brew, it's going to grow.
5. If there is still room between the top of the brew and the lip of the jar, you can add some more cold water. Place a couple layers of muslin on top of the jar and use a rubber band to hold the cloth in place. I use two cloths as extra protection against fruit flies.
6. Place the new brew in a semi dark to dark area where it can remain in temperatures ranging from 71-85 degrees. I have mine set up in the corner of the kitchen counter with a temperature controlled heating pad wrapped around the back. However, in the summertime there is usually no need to use a heating pad.
In 6-8 days, using a SCOBY, you should have one gallon of refreshing, tangy, semi-sweet kombucha! If it is the first brew made from vinegar and a jar of kombucha (no SCOBY) it will take a few extra days. Either way, it is worth the effort! For the fizz you must do a double fermentation. To do a double fermentation, gather three 1 quart Mason jars with lids and screw bands. Remove the SCOBY from the gallon jar and stir with a long spoon. Fill the three Mason jars with the kombucha, seal tight with the lid, then tuck them away in a cabinet for a few days. When you're ready to have a taste, refrigerate the jars for several hours then crack open a cold one. It should be nice and fizzy!