Kombucha!

Kombucha!

Kombucha is a healthy drink-we use it as a soda alternative.  It is fizzy, delicious, thirst quenching, and fun!  You can buy bottles of it anywhere from $3.33-$4.79 a bottle….OR you can make your own for pennies per batch!!  It is rich in glucoronic acid, b vitamins, and amino acids.  There is white sugar used in the making of this beverage, however the SCOBY or MOTHER eats the sugar out of the beverage so that you actually consume just a very minuscule amount.

KOMBUCHA MAKING INSTRUCTIONS

You will need the following grocery items:

  1. Organic Black Tea (Bags or Loose tea-I prefer bags because it makes the process a bit easier, but loose tea is cheaper.  Use black or oolong tea until you get used to the process).
  2. White cane sugar
  3. Filtered Spring Water
  4. Fruit or Fruit Juice (optional-used for 2nd ferment-This gives Kombucha the fizziness).
  5. White Vinegar
  6. a SCOBY (I will put instructions on how to make a SCOBY at the bottom of these instructions).  SCOBY stands for “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast”-is sometimes called a “Mushroom” or a “Mother”
  7. Starter tea 1/2 cup OR 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar.  If you don’t have starter tea from a friend, you can either use 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or Use 1/2 cup  Raw, unfiltered, Store bought Kombucha (be sure this is room temperature before using it.)

You will need to gather the following kitchen Items:

  1. Stainless Steel Kettle with a lid
  2. Quart Sized Glass Mason Jar
  3. A WOODEN SPOON dedicated to making Kombucha  (wooden spoons can harbor other bacteria-so to reduce the risk of contamination, please use a new wooden, and be sure to label this spoon for kombucha use only!)  It MUST be WOODEN.
  4. Grolsch bottles
  5. Brewing Vessel-A fermenting crock or a cleaned out gallon sized pickle jar will work.  This jar or vessel must not be plastic.  Plastic can leach unwanted chemicals into your kombucha.
  6. Thin tea towels (the kind your grandma used to cover bread dough to let it rise.)
  7. Large Rubberbands
  8. several clean kitchen towels
  9. Plastic Funnel
  10. Glass measuring cup, and another 1 cup measuring cup.
  11. Clean Glass plate
  12. small glass dish
  13. pH Strips-you can order these off Amazon.  My favorite brand so far is Hydrion.
  14. Metal Fine mesh strainer (only if using loose tea).
  15. Masking tape
  16. sharpie marker

 

Begin by making sure that all your items are very clean.  DO NOT use antibacterial soap to clean any items with.  Just a regular soap and water, then do a white vinegar rinse on all your items.

Next-put 1.5 quarts of filtered spring water into your kettle on the stove.  Use the Mason jar to measure this amount out.  Turn the stove on high and bring the water to a rolling boil.

Once the water is boiling Measure out 1 cup of white cane sugar and add to the water.  Stir this with the dedicated wooden spoon, until all of the sugar is DISSOLVED.

Next add 5 black tea bags or, 2 TBSP loose tea..

TURN HEAT OFF

Cover with lid and allow to steep for 4 minutes.

Remove tea bags with your wooden spoon and compost them, or Use your mesh strainer and filter out loose tea.  You can pour the finished tea into your fermenting vessel at this time.  So if you used loose tea, place your mesh filter above your fermenting vessel and pour the hot tea from the kettle into the fermenting vessel.

Add the remaining 1.5 quarts of Filtered Spring water to the tea brew.

Allow to cool to about 75-80 degrees.  I test mine with a clean finger.  If it feels just SLIGHTLY warm you are good to move on to the next step.  Be cautious on this step.  If your tea has not cooled enough, you will kill your SCOBY and/or promote bad bugs.

Next add your starter tea or apple cider vinegar (whichever you are using, but not both in most cases).

Next float your SCOBY on the surface of the tea.  If you place the SCOBY in the tea and it sinks or goes sideways, don’t worry.  It will still work, and will likely float to the top as your tea ferments.

Next place your clean tea towel over the fermenting vessel opening and rubber band it in place.

I use these 2 gallon food grade crocks from Ohio Stoneware.

Label your tea vessel with the date 7-10 days from today’s date.

Carefully place your tea in a room where it will not be disturbed and where the temperature is between 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit.  The temperature of the room where this ferments is important.  Temperatures can cause pathogenic bacteria to live in your ferment-and you DO NOT want this to happen!!!!  I have busy, curious little boys-so my kombucha goes up high on the shelf in my closet.  If you place yours in your closet as well, be sure to leave the door open, because your brew needs air circulation.

A couple side notes:  If you have a fruit fly swarm at some point in the summer like most of us do-take care of the fruit flies before you brew your tea.  Fruit flies love sweet tea, and SCOBYs.  If you get fruit flies in your kombucha or on your SCOBY, you will need to throw it all away.  They lay eggs on the SCOBY and it is NASTY!

You can allow your tea to ferment anywhere from 7-14 days.  At 7 days it will be sweeter, and 14 days will be more vinegar-y.  Experiment with brew times to suit your taste preferences.  The point being, if you are taking care of fruit flies you can allow a couple extra days to lapse.  This is not too strict a process in this regard.

You will need to inspect your SCOBY each time you brew a new batch of tea, and if you see any green or black mold growth, TOSS THE TEA AND THE SCOBY!!!  It is no longer fit for consumption!

Your SCOBY also sometimes called a “mother, mushroom” etc, will grow a baby on the top side each brew cycle.  This is one sign that all is well, and that the SCOBY is working to ferment your tea.

If you get tired of brewing and need a break, or you are going on a long vacation etc, you can allow your kombucha to continue brewing through the break or vacation.  It will simply make Kombucha Vinegar, which is awesome for making salad dressings, or meat marinades etc.

If using Tap water be aware that Chloriene and Flouride can kill your SCOBY.  If it turns black, it is dead.  Toss it and start over!

At 7 days, you can uncover your brew, and place a plastic straw along side the SCOBY and get a bit of kombucha in the straw (like a dropper) to taste.  If it suits your taste, great, it’s time to begin the 2nd ferment if you like-or you can drink  it as it is.  If you think it’s too sweet still, then just cover it back up with the tea towel, place the rubber band on and allow it to ferment a bit longer.

Also during this stage of brewing, you will want to use a straw like a dropper to pH test your brew.  If it has a pH below 4.0 great!  If above 4.0 DISCARD SCOBY AND TEA!!  A pH above 4.0 can allow harmful/pathogenic bacteria to grow.

These are the pH test strips I use.
You can get them here:
https://www.microessentiallab.com/default.aspx

I do not wash my Crock, or grolsch bottles with each brew.  I do rinse them out well, and then do vinegar rinses on them every couple of brews.

I hope you enjoy trying this if you have never tried it!  Be sure to catch part 2 for instructions on 2nd fermenting your kombucha brew!  I will describe to you how to flavor your kombucha using seasonal fruit and herbs, give you flavor suggestions to get your creativity flowing, and also give you some tips on making it fizzy and delicious!

 

 

Nothing beats a fizzy glass of iced Kombucha on a hot day!  See you soon!


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