Kombucha Project # 1

We all know I can’t be satisfied with one project in the works. I have to have three, or more, in the works. With two novels in the editing phase, I took on a home project brewing Kombucha and I want to show you how this is coming along.

Kombucha is fermented tea with the health benefits:

*contains probiotics
*alkalizes the body
*detoxifies the liver
*increases metabolism
*improves digestion
*alleviates constipation
*cancer prevention
*reduces blood pressure
*relieves headaches & migraines
*aids healthy cell regeneration
*reduces kidney stones
*high in polyphenols
*improves eyesight
*reduces eczema – softens the skin
*prevents arteriosclerosis
*speeds healing of ulcers
*helps clear up candida & yeast infections
*boosts energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*high in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer and promote healthy cellular development
*rebuilds connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism

 

You can do continuous brew (CB) or batch brew (BB), and I thought, since this was my first time I would do BB, and if I liked it well enough, switch over to CB. At $4.00 a pop in health food  stores, it can get quite expensive if you drink a couple of servings a day.

To brew Kombucha at home is really very simple.

You need the following:

A healthy SCOBY (A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) In my case two. Yes, they’re alive!

1 cup -2 cups strong starter liquid per gallon

A brewing vessel (plain or fancy) a glass pickle jar will do, you can get a fancy ceramic urn with a spigot, or what I have that is a cross between the two, a 2.5 gal glass water dispenser with a spigot. I want to be able to watch the process, but have the convenience of a spigot.

Tea, (green or black)

1 cup granulated cane sugar per gallon (feeds the yeast, not you)

4-6 bags tea bags per gallon

distilled water

tea kettle

cloth cover

rubber band

  Steps

  1. Boil 4 cups of water per gallon.
  2. Add hot water & tea bags to pot.
  3. Steep 5-7 minutes, then remove tea bags.
  4. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Let tea cool down to room temperature to prevent killing SCOBY! Add to vessel.
  5. Fill vessel most of the way with distilled water, leaving just 1-2 inches from the top for breathing room.
  6. Add SCOBY and starter liquid. (Best source for these Kombucha Kamp, Hannah also sells heater strips for those in cooler climates, as ideal brewing temp is around 74 to 82 degrees.)
  7. Cover with cloth cover and secure with the rubber band.
  8. Say a prayer, send good vibes, commune with your culture (optional but recommended).
  9. Set in a warm location out of direct sunlight (unless vessel is opaque). Mine is in my darkened studio, but I also wrap it in a dark blankie.) The area needs to be well ventilated.
  10. Do not disturb for 7 days. (Mine took 14 d/t quantity)
Healthy SCOBY

Healthy SCOBY

I purchased my SCOBY, starter and heating sheet from Kombucha Mama at Kombucha Kamp. I can’t say enough about Hannah and her helpers. Her customer service is impeccable. She really knows her Kombucha and if you have a question about the process, she has the answer somewhere on her site.

SCOBY are stored in my SCOBY Hotel. Here I have two mamas and a baby. There are stored in a glass container with starter liquid which has been pulled from the top of a fermented batch.

SCOBY are stored in my SCOBY Hotel. Here I have two mamas and a baby. They are stored in a glass container with starter liquid which has been pulled from the top of a fermented batch.

Kombucha set-up. I added an aquarium thermometer so I could judge the brewing temp.

Kombucha set-up. I added an aquarium thermometer so I could gauge the brewing temp. The mamas will sink as the baby forms on the top.

With the heating element added around the base (also available at Kombucha Kamp) I'm keeping SCOBY warm and productive. The mamas sink to the bottom, while the baby forms on top. I named my mamas Laverne and Shirley and my baby's name is Stuie.

With the heating element added around the base (also available at Kombucha Kamp) I’m keeping SCOBY warm and productive. The mamas sink to the bottom, while the baby forms on top. I named my mamas Laverne and Shirley and my baby’s name is Stuie. See the yeastie bits forming?

The tea lightens as it ferments.

The tea lightens as it ferments.

 

Here is Stuie being born, sealing off the top and doing his job.

Here is Stuie being born, sealing off the top and doing his job. Bubbles of carbonation are building under him as he grows to seal off the tea from the air.

Once Stuie has done his job (7-14 days, a little longer if you have slow starter or a large quantity. Only three or four days if you use continuous brew method.) the mamas and baby are set aside into the scoby hotel. If you are doing CB, you don’t even have to do this step, just decant a third from the bottom, then pour in replacement fresh sweet tea. I wasn’t sure about the first batch, but will be CBing in the future.

Ready to decant. I have my SCOBY Hotel to the left. Bottles for second ferment, and the mature KT

Ready to decant. I have my SCOBY Hotel to the left. Bottles for second ferment, and the mature KT. My currently unused art studio serves as my KT brewing room. You can brew in a lovely ceramic brew pot, also available at Kombucha Kamp, right on your kitchen counter top.

Kombucha Brewing First batch 010

I’ve prepped my fruits and herbs and spices. I’m making pear with ginger and cinnamon, peach ginger, strawberry, and hibiscus with cinnamon. A little goes a long way. You only need about a teaspoon per 16 oz bottle. The KT acts on the natural sugars to add more carbonation to this fizzy drink during the second ferment, which takes three or four days.

My bottles are prepped with fruit and spices. You don't have to puree the fruit. You can cut into bits and drop in, but I have another use for the leftover fruit I'll tell you about later.

My bottles are prepped with fruit and spices. You don’t have to puree the fruit. You can cut into bits and drop in, but I have another use for the leftover fruit I’ll tell you about later.

Decant into your 16 oz bottles from the spigot, or you can pour from a jar over the sink. The spigot is a lifesaver. My funnel has a screen which filters the yeasty bits.

You want to fill your bottles nearly to the top so as little space as possible is there for air. This speeds carbonation. VERY IMPORTANT: Burp your bottles every day or two to avoid EXPLOSION!!!

Place bottles into a cooler for safety and to keep dark at room temp. Don't forget to BURP them every couple of days. Keeping them in a cooler prevents glas and booch from spraying all over the place in case carbonation builds up and you have an explosion.

Place bottles into a cooler for safety and to keep dark at room temp. Don’t forget to BURP them every couple of days. Keeping them in a cooler prevents glass and booch from spraying all over the place in case carbonation builds up and you have an explosion.

Clean up is a breeze with vinegar. Never use soap and water...even trace amounts of soap will kill your culture.

Clean up is a breeze with vinegar. Never use soap and water…even trace amounts of soap will kill your culture. If you are doing continuous brewing instead of batch brewing, you only have to do this about every four to six months. Once fully fermented, I’ll be poring off into the Grolsch-style bottles.

Once your KT is ready, you can pur yourself a refreshing glass and drink right away, or strain into fresh bottles to get rid of the organic matter, which will continue to decompose if not removed. I strained into Grolsch-type bottles to go into the fridge right away. KT will not spoil.

Once your KT is ready, (about a week) you can pour yourself a refreshing glass and drink right away, or strain into fresh bottles to get rid of the organic matter, which will continue to decompose if not removed. I strained into Grolsch-type bottles to go into the fridge right away. KT will not spoil.

If you have leftover fruit. Mix it with two or three tablespoons of chia seed for fresh fruit chia jam and place in fridge. It will be great on nut butter toast for breakfast.

If you have leftover fruit. Mix it with two or three tablespoons of chia seed for fresh fruit chia jam and place in fridge. It will be great on nut butter toast for breakfast. It keeps fresh for two or three weeks.

I can’t say enough about Kombucha Kamp and the Kombucha Mama. Hannah Crum is truly awesome and she is available to get you started with all the supplies you need. She also supports you through the process if you have concerns. She’s been in production for seven years and has attended many seminars and appeared on TV shows where she explains Kombucha and how to make it. Here is a cool video where she explains how to flavor during the second ferment:

36 thoughts on “Kombucha Project # 1

    • Yep. It becomes drier and less sweet as it ferments. A sixteen ounce bottle has less than 1 % alcohol and less than 24 mgs of caffeine. (coffee has 95 mgs) Little bit of a pick me up for somebody like me who is coffee naive. You can add chunks of pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices…you just might like that 🙂

        • Don’t forget the sourdough starter. She’s a yeasty project, too. Yeah, I had to check it out at the health food store and got addicted quick. I love the natural flavor, but the ginger ale rocks my boat best. I’ve heard ginger peach is really good, so I’m eager to try that one.

          • Bread is just different somehow. I’ve had an awful lot of home brew at friends’ houses that was too yeasty. There is a real trick to getting it right. Sounds like it may not be a problem here at all.

            • I’ve read some trouble shooting pages about what to do if the yeast overgrows. Mine was fairly yeasty, but I like that. If it’s too yeasty, you can squeeze an older scoby into the new brew to increase bacteria over yeast, and brew longer at a lower temp. It will be more tart/sour, but have less of the yeast.

                • I don’t think my starter was enough quantity for the size batch I was doing. I only had two cups. I needed four or five for 2.5 gallons. It was much slower to ferment…even with the heater. I pulled off eight cups from the top to have more starter for next time and plan to reduce to 2 gals. I’ll still use the same two mothers and the baby and work a continuous brew instead of a batch. I enjoy it enough to keep a constant brew going. You just keep it in the brewer constantly and replace what you draw off and in a few days you have more ready to bottle.

                  • My pickling experiments always worked that way. I likes a certain temperature and if it’s cold it takes longer. Less sourdough starter means better bread, but it can take a couple of days to rise completely.

                    • I hear it tastes smoother if it brews longer at a lower temp. I understand the yeast cycles up and down, so taste testing is the only way you know for certain if it is where you like it. The pH drops in the first few days, beyond that there are no markers to tell you. I tried a residual sugar test, but it didn’t work and I’m sending it back to the lab. Not happy about that. It was forty bucks.

    • It will be less work once I switch over to continuous brewing. Clean up only happens once every four to six months and it’s a cinch to get started. Then forget about it for a couple of weeks.

  1. I’m glad it’s working for you! But I am afraid of living stuff in my food. It reminds me of when I made dandelion wine with the dandelions from my grandparents’ front yard. Please make mine and mail it to me.

    • I love G.T’s Synergy Kombucha, raspberry with chia seeds. I haven’t mastered adding chia seed to my brew yet. I know they have to be pre-hydrated and added to the second ferment, but haven’t experimented with that. I got thirteen bottles out of my first batch and plan to do continuous brew next.

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