Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kombucha

Since July, I have been drinking Kombucha almost everyday. This has been made possible because I am making it myself. 


  1. Kombucha is a fermented sweetened tea that has been around for centuries. It is slightly tangy and slightly sweet, and a great treat on a summer day. Just as with water kefir, Kombucha can be double fermented into a fizzy soda with a slight fruit taste." Wikipedia
  2. Kombucha has been around for more than 2,000 years. It was known by the Chinese as the "Elixir of Life". It has extraordinary health benefits and antioxidant properties, which have been known to ward off cancer (particularly of the colon). It is a probiotic and by definition, it will improve gut-health. Improving gut-health means strengthening the immune system. It works to detoxify your liver and kidneys which improves your energy and overall vitality. In short, it is a delicious miracle drink of love. 
  3. If you would like to read more about this please check out this post by Tom Valentine at Search for Health Magazine via (1993 when Kombucha knowledge was introduced to the United States).
  4. This is how we make it:
1. Acquire  a scoby or grow one.

The Scoby is the fungus that ferments the tea to it's level of healthy goodness. People who already grow them know that when they get to be about an inch thick it is time to split the scoby and find a home for it's other half. This is how we came by our two scoby-babies. My mother-in-law grew them and split hers to start me making my own "booch". If you are interested in growing your own then check out Cultures for Health for various options and instructions on all things Kombucha.


This is my scoby- it looks like a jellyfish 


2. Add 12 cups of filtered water to a pot and bring it to a boil. Tap water could kill the scoby so be certain to use filtered water. 

Photo Credit Berkey Water Purification


3. Once it is boiling, add 1 cup of organic cane sugar or 3/4 cup of pasteurized honey (do not use raw honey because it has its own enzymes that might damage the scoby).        *Hint-The scoby is a living organism.

4. Make sure the honey or sugar dissolves and then add two bags of organic black tea and two bags of organic green tea. Turn off the burner and let the tea steep.

5. When the tea-water is at a temperature between 90-98 degrees Fahrenheit then pour the liquid (minus the tea bags) into a gallon jug (glass only to prevent chemical leaching from plastic or metal which could also damage the scoby).

6. With clean hands, add the scoby to the gallon jar (it should float on the surface for the most part). Then cover your jar with clean muslin or cheese cloth so the scoby can breathe.


Our Kombucha fermenting


7. Put your jar in a place that will stay a consistent temperature of around 60-75 degrees and let it ferment for 2-4 weeks. We have found that 2 weeks makes a carbonated, sweet Kombucha and 4 weeks makes a less bubbly-sweet more funky Kombucha (I prefer the later). 

Harvesting your Kombucha

1. With clean hands, remove your Scoby and place it in a glass or plastic bowl with 1/4 cup of Kombucha juice to keep it saturated. Cover it with the muslin or cheese cloth to keep out contamination.

2. With a plastic strainer, pour the contents of your jar into the vessel you would like to store the "Booch" in. We like to use beer growlers. The strainer helps to pull out the baby fungus that has formed in the bottom. They are a bit slimy and are an unpleasant texture to sipping your kombucha if you leave them in.


Helpful supplies to have 


3. Prepare a new batch of water, sugar/honey, tea to add the scoby to as soon as possible.

4. Drink to your health!




If you are not able to make your own Kombucha then you can buy it in stores and specialty shops. Be prepared to spend around $4.00 for around 8-12 ounces. Locally, in Charlotte, we have a great "Booch" brewery called "Lenny Boy". They have Kombucha both on tap and in bottles at their Brewery and they sell their products at Seventh Street Market, Common Market, Rhino MarketAtherton Market and other locations around town. They have a variety of flavors which are possible to make at home. This requires a little bit of research to be sure that the flavors you'd like to add to your brew will not hurt the scoby. Typical flavors that are safe to brew with your tea are: mint, rose, jasmine, ginger. I have tried Mint (dried from my herb garden and added to the brewing tea), Jasmine (organic and dried), Rose (organic and dried).