Kombucha! Part 1

I don’t know about you, but, I love a good Kombucha. By now, I am sure you have heard the word before. But, maybe you are not quite sure what Kombucha is. I am here to give you a little Kombucha 101 and take you on a little journey with me.

Kombucha is a sweet tea that has been fermented by a SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to produce a sour and effervescent probiotic drink. It does contain some alcohol, but not much, generally under 1% by volume. It is not enough to get you drunk, but definitely something to be aware of.

The amazing health benefits of Kombucha include detoxification of the body that eases the burden on your liver, it promotes joint health, and it also aids in digestion and gut care which boosts your immunity.
You can check out more about the health benefits of kombucha here and here.
I discovered this stuff about five or six years ago for the first time when my husband was looking for something to drink that would give him energy before a bike ride. He asked a guy at Whole Foods what was the best stuff and he was introduced to GT’s Synergy Strawberry flavor kombucha. The first time he bought one, he shook it up because it has floaties in it and it looks like it needs a good shaking. BAD idea. It nearly exploded in the car. I could smell the vinegar (I have been told I have a bionic nose and bionic noses are EXTREMELY sensitive to all smells). So, if you are just starting out with Kombucha, rule #1, do not shake a GT’s Kombucha. In fact, guard it from as much movement as you can. I actually had one explode while it was resting quietly in my fridge. The glass actually blew right out of the side of the bottle. GT’s was actually quite awesome about it. I sent them a picture and they sent me coupons for some free bottles. But, that’s not what I am here to talk about. It took me awhile to actually try a kombucha because of the smell (I have an aversion to vinegar smells). One day I tried Botanic #7 and I was hooked. I have been spending gobs of money on the stuff ever since. My husband, Scott, has wanted to make some for awhile and I just haven’t wanted to get into something that needs my time and care. And, I will be honest, I have been freaked out about having a living growing thing that looks like an organ of some sort hanging out in my kitchen.
That is until one day the amazing Angela Russell of Green Dreams Detroit and Stephanie Salvaggio of Detroit Gypsy Kitchen teamed up to do a workshop for peeps like me. I signed Christine and I up for the workshop that would take my freaked out level from a 10 to a 6 in just an hour and a half. The SCOBY that got passed around in a ziplock bag is probably what kept me at a 6.
angela_kombucha
So, what did we learn? First up, it all starts with a healthy, happy SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). See what I mean about freaked out? You can either get a SCOBY from a friend who is brewing Kombucha, buy one, or grow your own.
We decided to begin the entire process from scratch so that we can share that experience with all of you. What you need to grow your own SCOBY: GT’s Original Flavor – (we used 2 bottles to grow 2 SCOBY’s), Water, Tea, Sugar, two wide mouth jars and some coffee filters that will cover the jars.
kombucha_ingredients
Christine and I decided to make it an adventure so we headed out to check out a tea store that we had not tried yet. It’s a very nice little place downtown Detroit called Socra Tea. They have quite a variety of teas to choose from. We learned from the workshop that green teas don’t seem to make as good of Kombucha as black or oolong, so, we chose a nice black and a nice green oolong tea. We stopped at Whole Foods on our way back and picked up our GT’s plain kombucha. You can purchase GT’s kombucha at a number of places. You can check out their website to find out where it is sold near you.
socratea
Then we got started on growing our baby SCOBYs. Here’s how we did it. We started with two clean 1 quart mason jars. It is important that they be clean because you want to reduce the risk of introducing and competing yeast or bacteria. We then brewed 1 cup of tea in each jar and then stirred in 2 tablespoons of organic sugar. We allowed the tea to cool until it was closer to room temperature (it can be a little warm still, you just don’t want it to be scalding hot) and then added a whole bottle of kombucha to each jar. We covered them with a thick coffee filter and screwed down the outer rings over them to hold them in place. Lastly, we found a spot on the counter away from direct sunlight and now we just have to wait. I understand it takes a few weeks to grow a SCOBY and sometimes longer. It depends on the temperature in your house where your SCOBY will live.
Stay tuned to see how the growth goes and to find out how we do with our first batch. In the meantime, some important things to know about the SCOBY:
  • The metabolism of the yeast and bacteria are effected by temperature. Too cold and the SCOBY will grow painfully slowly. Too hot and it will metabolize the suger and tea before it forms a nice colony. Comfortable room temperature is ideal, shoot for between 65 and 80 degrees. Also keep it out of direct sunlight, wich will heat up the tea through the glass.
  • Keep in a place where it won’t be disturbed too much, you don’t want your delicate baby SCOBY to sink or fold over itself before it gets big enough to be used.
  • Be patient. A SCOBY is ready to be used when it is at least 1/4 inch thick. Depending on conditions, this will take anywhere from a couple weeks to a month.
If you have experience, please chime in and let us know or prepare us for anything to come.
Sources for this article include:
Posted in Food/Nutrition.

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