Let's talk about...Kombucha

December 13, 2013

I know-- you woke up this morning and thought, you know what I want to talk about????? Kombucha. I'm so with you. There's nothing that gets me excited quite like bacteria and yeast....

In the Ben and Laura diaries, once upon a time we tried our hands at brewing beer. It went poorly. I mean, we followed through on all of the steps, but we failed in a couple of ways:

#1-- It takes time to brew beer. We had to wait for weeks for it to be ready to try, and Ben and I are not a waiting people.

#2-- It didn't taste like Surly. Why would you go through the mess of brewing beer, only to find out it doesn't taste like Surly?

Well Ben no longer drinks beer, and he wanted a beverage that was delicious to drink, but less sugary than soda-- which led him to try kombucha for the first time. I immediately frowned upon kombucha, stating that it tastes like vinegar, or something rotten-- you choose. Here's the thing: kombucha is expensive. Like, $4 a pop expensive, so you might as well be drinking beer, right? I eventually tasted a kombucha that felt palatable, and then I started thinking about brewing it-- because it's pricy stuff, and I am also a savings-loving person!

A couple months ago my friend Phil supplied a SCOBY, and Ben jumped into kombucha brewing. And here we are-- so far with better results than with the beer. I wanted to share Ben's brewing methods (so far, my role is mostly as consumer). Maybe you have kombucha suggestions of your own? Or maybe you recognize that it's brewed from a gelatinous-like creature, and stay away entirely.

Let's start by talking about supplies:

You need---
               A kombucha mother (SCOBY).
               A gallon-size glass brewing vessel (we use a glass pitcher from Target).
               Leftover kombucha tea.
               Black or green tea bags.
               Flavoring agents (Ben juices ginger and lemon).
               Pint-size ball jars for storing.

The News About Making Kombucha:
Right now we're brewing 2 batches at a time, with 2 SCOBYs and 2 gallon-size brewing jars. The recipe that Ben uses is from TheKitchn, but he's been playing with less sugar, switching to all green tea, and also messing with various flavoring agents.

The timeline looks like this:
1) You brew your tea (with sugar and leftover kombucha) and place it in the gallon-size brewing vessel with your crazy looking SCOBY.

2) You wait 10-13 days.

3) You take the kombucha (sans SCOBY) and add any flavoring (for instance, fresh-squeezed ginger and lemon juice), and then strain it into pint jars and close them.

4) You wait 1-3 days for the pints to carbonate, and then refrigerate them.

5) You peel off your second SCOBY (if it's a good one) and give it away to a friend, or start another one. You begin the process again!

Ok, so this is Ben's 3rd or 4th batch. So far I highly recommend the flavor of the green tea-only blend, versus the green and black tea blend. Also: fresh ginger juice is really good stuff. We've been consistently brewing, but some websites have notes for taking a break with brewing. Also: important precautionary things, like what to do when your SCOBY molds.

Do you have any advice or resources for Ben's kombucha adventure? How do we get more carbonation? Do you want our extra SCOBY?


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