Monday, July 16, 2012

Kombucha-Part 2 Brewing

Ok, so with great delight I write that my "grow it yourself s.c.o.b.y." is GROWING!!!  Yay!  I just posted a picture to the Kombucha Part 1 blog post!  I am so excited!  

**Update...not only did he start to grow but he GREW into a beautiful healthy scoby that I am using for the 4th time today to brew a batch of Kombucha!  We looooove k'cha!!  :-)


Brewing Your Own Kombucha

What you need.....

-Glass jar preferable 2 gallon (has to be glass!)  Walmart has nice 2 gallon ones that I bought for $10.  **BIG NOTE here...glass container has to be big.  Measure the diameter (top of) your glass jar.  If if it 8 inches in diameter, then there has to be 8 inches of just air in the top of the jar.  There has to be adequate air flow in the jar.  You do not want your Kombucha to fill your glass jar to the top.

-4 organic tea bags or loose tea, not flavored (2 organic green and 2 organic black tea) or (2 tsp organic green and 2 tsp organic black.) (do not use decaf tea)

-1 1/4 cup organic cane sugar (I buy the big bag at Costco)
-12 cups (3 quarts) of Reverse osmosis water (filtered should work too)
-1 cup plain Kombucha or 1 bottle of GT's original(no flavor) Kombucha, room temperature
-Organic fruit, organic fruit juice or organic extracts (ginger, etc)
-Glass bottles (empty and cleaned with lids) NOT COLORED GLASS!!!  Clear only.*
-Wooden ladle (no metal can ever touch your s.c.o.b.y.!!)
-White cotton dish towel (never bleach these and never use colored towel)
-Large rubber band
-1 s.c.o.b.y. (if you live local to me, I will gladly give you one for free.  and your starter.)


*****Note:  DO NOT use antibacterial soap to wash the glass jar or any of the items you will use to make this Kombucha.****** (You shouldn't be using antibacterial soap either.)


What to do.....

Bring 12 cups (3 quarts) of your reverse osmosis water to a boil in a stainless steel sauce pan.  Once it is boiling stir in 1 1/4 cups of organic cane sugar.  Boil for 5 minutes to ensure all sugar is dissolved.  Remove pot from heat and turn stove off.  Place the 4 tea bags (or loose tea) in the hot, sugary water.  Let steep for 10 minutes with lid on.  (2 black and 2 green tea bags ONLY....no more.)

When the 10 minutes have passed, remove tea bags, squeezing gently to squeeze out remaining tea and place in your compost bin.  Then pour hot sugary tea into your glass jar and wait about 2 hours until the sugary tea is at body temperature ~98 degrees.  Cooler than 98 degrees is fine too.  

DO NOT EVER let your sugary tea cool overnight!!!  This is asking for mold.

(If this is not your first time brewing Kombucha, and you just left your s.c.o.b.y. in the glass brewing jar while you made a new batch of sugar tea, DO NOT pour the sugar tea over the s.c.o.b.y. until the sugar tea is cooled to body temperature or cooler.  Pouring HOT sugar tea over your s.c.o.b.y. could kill your s.c.o.b.y.)

Once your sugar tea has cooled to body temperature, you can now pour your 1c Kombucha starter or bottle of GT's original Kombucha into the sugar tea water.   

Now, with clean hands, gently lay your s.c.o.b.y. on top of the liquid.  It might sink, it might not, if it does sink it will float back to the top within 1 day.

Cover your glass jar with a clean (never been bleached) WHITE dish rag or towel and secure with a rubber band around the lip of the jar, holding the dish rag or towel in place (we don't want gnats or dust getting into our Kombucha).

Place glass jar in a safe location, that is not in direct sunlight, not in a closet, not in a kitchen where there are food particles flying around.  Somewhere that stays fairly warm and a room that does not have a ceiling fan.  76 degrees is preferable, but not a necessity.  The room needs to be a quiet room, not a room where there is a lot of chaos (which honestly is no where in my house and my Kombucha brews just fine :-) ).  Temperature affects how fast or slow your Kombucha brews.  We actually keep ours in our den.

In the hot months, check your Kombucha after 6 days, if it is starting to taste tart, bottle it now if you want a fizzy tasting Kombucha.  In the winter I let my first brew go 9-10 days before I bottle.  If you don't like fizzy, bottle and immediately place in your refrigerator.  

You will also see that your s.c.o.b.y. is growing, there should be a new layer on top.  If you ever see green mold growing on top, something has gone wrong.  There should not be blue or green mold.  Throw the batch out and start all over.  


This is what you want your Kombucha to look like when brewing.  Weird I know.





In the summer months, after about 6 days of brewing your Kombucha should be ready to bottle.  In the Winter 9-10 depending on the temperature of your house and how tart you like your Kombucha.  You are looking for a slightly sweet yet tart taste.  So, grab a utensil (NOT METAL, use a wood or plastic spoon) and taste your Kombucha brew.  You can gently press down on the top of the s.c.o.b.y. to retrieve some Kombucha on your spoon.  If you like it more sour tasting, brew for another couple of days, checking the flavor each day.


I bought this little baby on Amazon.


Temperature plays a huge roll on brewing time when it comes to Kombucha.  For example, where I live it is freezing cold right now, so I let my Kombucha brew in the brewing jar for 9-10 days, then bottle with fruit and brew another 2 days.  This is perfection for me in the winter.


In the summer, I brew for 5-7 days, then bottle with fruit and brew the bottles another 1-2 days, depending on the temperature in the house.

***When I first started brewing Kombucha I went with the shorter amount of days because I needed it sweeter.  Now that I have been drinking it for awhile I like it tarter.  And the longer you brew, the more good benefits in your Kombucha.  

When the Kombucha has reached a flavor you desire, and if you want to make it fizzy like a pop.  Follow the instructions below*.  If you do not want your Kombucha to have fizz stop here and use a kitchen funnel to slowly pour your Kombucha into your already cleaned and prepped glass bottles (do NOT use a metal ladle or spoon here).  I have been saving my GT's Kombucha glass bottles, Bionature strained tomato glass bottles and club soda bottles to use for my Kombucha, these are my favorite.  Anything glass will work with a top that you can screw on tightly. I am finding that the neck of the glass bottle determines how much fizz you get, if any from some bottles.  Don't fill you Kombucha to the top of the bottle.  Give it room to get fizzy.

*If you would like to add flavor to your Kombucha, now is the time.  And keep in mind, this is all personal preference.  You can do just about anything you want here....strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mango, kiwi, cherries...my first batch I am going to juice organic pears and add some of the pear juice and organic ginger extract to the bottom of each of my bottles before I fill them with my Kombucha brew.  (*Update...I did not do this.  Organic pears were out of season.  So, I pureed organic strawberries.  I highly suggest juicing them, if you have a juicer, if not puree is fine but there will be pieces of strawberry when you drink this.)  You can add anywhere from 1 tsp to 4 tbsp depending on the flavor you are wanting to achieve and of course the size of the bottle.  For my GT's bottles I use 4 tbsp, for my club soda bottles I use 2 tbsp of pureed organic strawberries or strawberry juice.  (My friend Mackenzie uses blended blueberries with a small amount of grated ginger.  My friend Lisa adds Pom juice to create a cranberry flavor).  **My new favorite is thawed red raspberries.  Love!!!!

To create fizz in your batch of Kombucha.  
First, using the kitchen funnel, place funnel in the neck of your clean (recycled lol) glass bottle, pour your fruit juice, pureed fruit or cut fruit into the funnel (or bottle) and then slowly fill your bottle with your Kombucha brew, leaving an inch of room at the top.  Repeat this with your other empty glass bottles, until you have poured all but at least 1 cup of the Kombucha brew into your bottles.  Place lids on bottles.  And place bottles on your counter-top or in a cabinet but leave the door open.  You want to keep out at least 1 cup of your Kombucha brew and save it for your next batch of Kombucha you are going to brew. I just leave an inch or two in the bottom of my glass brew jar with the s.c.o.b.y. still floating in it.

Saving some Kombucha without the fruit it in saves you money.  You don't have to buy more starter Kombucha when you can use your own brew to start your next batch!  Cool huh'?  And you can save out more starter and give to a friend along with a s.c.o.b.y. baby when your s.c.o.b.y. gets too thick.  Then your friend can begin brewing Kombucha too!  We sometimes have problems getting our hands on Original GT's here, so sharing the brew and the s.c.o.b.y.'s is a must!  :-)

Let the bottles, with the fruit in them, sit for 1-2 days.  BUT remember that everyday you must burp each bottle!!  You burp the bottle by slowing twisting the cap until you hear the carbonation/pressure release from the bottle a small amount.  Then re-tighten the cap.  Repeat the next day, until you have reached the level of carbonation you like.  You can go more than 2 days but remember the longer you brew the more apple cider vinegary tasting your Kombucha will become.  Then refrigerate and enjoy!

Double this recipe to fill your 2 gallon glass jar.

Let me know when you experiment with different flavors.
Delicious.




As a recap, when you go to brew your next batch, leave at least 1 cup of your plain (no fruit added yet) Kombucha and your s.c.o.b.y. culture in your glass jar.  Slowly pour your body temperature or cooler sugar tea over the top of the s.c.o.b.y., cover, rubber band and check again in 6-7 days.

If you are not wanting to brew another batch right away, leave your s.c.o.b.y. in your glass brewing jar or place your s.c.o.b.y. culture in a large glass bowl with a lid (where the s.c.o.b.y. can lay flat), cover with plain/no fruit added Kombucha and sit in a dark cabinet or room.  I have only temporarily (2-4 days stopped brewing), so I just leave my s.c.o.b.y. on the counter top or in a kitchen cabinet.  When you go on vacation, you can (1)time it to where you bottle right before you leave, stick all of the bottles in the refrigerator and start a new batch to brew while you are gone or (2)leave s.c.o.b.y. sitting in 2 cups of plain/no fruit added Kombucha.

Double everything above to larger (double) batch.  :-)

Information from www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com  One of my favorite blogs!!

***Some good questions that have came up from friends about k'cha.
1.  So, where should I put my glass jar if I can't use my kitchen?  Try putting it in your bedroom or den.  Some place higher up where the kids can't knock it over.  We have ours up on our desk in our den.  BUT DO NOT turn on the ceiling fan!
2.  Why can't I use colored towels?  You want the air around your Kombucha to be as clean as possible, dyed hand towels are not clean, chemically speaking.
3.  If my s.c.o.b.y. is already in the glass jar I am going to use, can I pour the sugar tea mixture on top of it?  Yes and no.  Lol  I do this all of the time but it can makes bubbles on top of my s.c.o.b.y.  So, carefully pour your body temperature or cooler sugar tea on the edge of your s.c.o.b.y.  Or just take the s.c.o.b.y. out and place it in another glass bowl, fill your glass jar with your sugar tea mixture and then gently lay your s.c.o.b.y. back on top of the sugar water.
4.  Does a kitchen cabinet make a good storage space for brewing my Kombucha?  NO.  Your Kombucha needs good air flow and moderate sunlight.  That is not available in a kitchen cabinet.
5.  Why can't I brew my Kombucha in my kitchen on the counter top?  A kitchen is a very busy place.  Food particles are flying around and you don't want to increase the chance of your Kombucha growing mold.  Which could happen if food particles would find there way into your glass jar.  It is just a precaution.  We work hard to make K'cha, we want to be as careful as possible to ensure it is safe for us to drink.

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