Adventures In Kombucha Brewing

I've been wanting to brew my own kombucha for quite some time but I was truthfully a little scared of the process. I mean, let's be honest, when you start researching kombucha and read words like scoby and the mother I think it's totally natural to have a WTF moment. I know I certainly did!

For those of you currently having a WTF moment and wondering what kombucha is: It's a fermented tea-based beverage that's full of probiotics, antioxidants, B vitamins and more!

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It's touted for digestive support, revving up metabolism, detoxification, improving energy levels, boosting immunity, relieving allergy symptoms and contributing to the prevention of candida and arthritis.

Some say that it's an acquired taste but I've always found it to be delicious. Because it's fermented some people find it to be sour and vinegar-like. I would describe it as being more tart and refreshing because it's effervescent (bubbly).

You can buy kombucha from any health food store and I've even found it at some local grocery stores.
My favourite brands:

Rise

Tonica Kombucha

GTs Kombucha & Synergy

Brew Dr. Kombucha

But brewing kombucha at home is actually really easy and like anything else homemade is preferable. So, when one of my colleagues was giving away scobies I decided to go for it! I adopted my very own scoby baby, did a ton of research, read various blogs, bought my supplies and ingredients and off I went.

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Definition of SCOBY:
Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeast. Also referred to as culture, mother and baby. 

 

Let me be completely upfront - I'm by no means a kombucha brewing authority. I'm simply sharing my experience and some of the valuable information I've collected along the way.

 


Here's how I went about brewing

What you need:

  •  1 gallon glass jar (I bought mine from Canadian Tire)
  • 1 cup measure
  • 1 pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cloth, paper towel or coffee filter
  • Rubber band
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Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon of water (preferably filtered or spring but not tap)
  • 1 cup of organic white sugar
  • 6-8 organic caffeinated tea bags (black or green tea is best)*
  • 1/2 cup kombucha (not a necessity)**
  • 1 scoby

 

 

* Avoid using herbal or flavoured teas as the essential oils can damage the culture. Despite differing opinions, I actually used an organic Earl Grey after talking to others who successfully brewed with it. 

** If you don't have the 1/2 cup of kombucha, don't sweat it! Your kombucha may just take a little longer to ferment. 

Directions

  1. Fill your gallon jug with clean water and pour it into your pot.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Add sugar and stir to ensure the sugar dissolves.
  4. Add tea and allow this to steep with the lid off until it's completely cooled to room temperature.
  5. Once cool, strain the tea and transfer to your clean gallon jug.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of kombucha and using a wooden spoon add your scoby.*
  7. Cover with cloth, paper towel or coffee filter and secure it with an elastic band.
  8. Store in a slightly warm spot away from direct sunlight.**
  9. Allow this to sit for at least 7 days undisturbed. Start tasting it after day 7 and every few days until you reach your optimum flavour preference. To taste, simply insert a straw under the scoby and take a sip. If it's too sweet, continue to brew longer.
  10. Once you have the correct taste, pour tea off (I use glass mason jars to store mine in), leaving just enough tea for the scoby to live in.
  11. At this point you can store your kombucha in the refrigerator and drink as desired OR do a second fermentation process (optional) by adding the flavours you want into the poured off tea (no scoby) & allow it to sit for another week or so sampling at about day 7. You'll want to leave this on the countertop with a sealed lid and release the pressure daily (to prevent explosions). Again, once you have the correct taste, strain out the flavoured tea and store in a glass bottle or mason jar in the fridge.
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* I've read that metal weakens the scoby so be mindful of this wherever possible.

** Do not refrigerate your scoby - this will kill it! I've also read that fermentation will take longer if you leave it by a window in cooler months. 

NOTES:

  1. I ALWAYS let mine sit for 2-4 weeks. I don't start tasting until the 2 week mark. This way the sugar gets mostly digested by the scoby. I prefer my kombucha to be fairly strong, less sweet & more healing. But remember the longer it ferments the more vinegary tasting it will be. If it's too sweet then simply brew longer. You're looking for the perfect amount of tartness for your particular palate.
  2. Remember that the sugar in this recipe is not for you - it's for your scoby. Sugar is needed to feed the scoby to help with fermentation. If you allow it to sit long enough, eventually the scoby will digest most of the sugar and there will be trace amounts left.
  3. Flavouring options for second fermentation process: grated ginger, frozen fruit, pureed fruits, a drop of high quality essential oil like peppermint and liquid chlorophyll.
  4. When your scoby multiplies (and it will!)  - run and hide! Just kidding :) You can start housing them in their own clean glass mason jar with at least 1/2 cup of your kombucha to get a second brew going or just leave it with the mother (original scoby). Alternatively, you can give your scobies away to friends, family or anyone looking to start brewing themselves.
  5. When handling your multiplied scoby always wash your hands and use sterile tongs to help separate them if need be.
  6. Never refrigerate your scoby. You'll kill it.
  7. Keep an eye out for mold - black spots or any fuzzy growth. If you're unsure of what's normal and what's not then check out this really helpful post here.
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If you know of a friend giving away a scoby then I suggest contacting them. People who brew their own kombucha tend to have many scobies and are usually happy to give them away to a good home :) So put the word out! You can also buy them online just be sure to read the reviews to ensure quality.

Happy Brewing!

I wanna know, have you ever tried kombucha before?! What did you think?

Valerie XO

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