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In 2008 I first read about kombucha. I loved what I was reading, for the most part. The health benefits: probiotic, antioxidant, gut healing, good for your liver… Kombucha sounds wonderful! What’s not to love?
Then I read articles about the taste of kombucha: vinegar, tart, strong cider… I have to say, it didn’t sound very appealing.
When I finally tasted it for myself, I was hooked. It’s really impossible to accurately describe the taste. And I’ve discovered that quite often, when home brewing, the flavor changes from one batch to the next.
After trying a purchased bottle, and paying the insane cost of the purchased bottle (upwards of $3.00), I knew it would be home brewing for me.
I ordered a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) from Cultures For Health. The SCOBY includes instructions to turn this funny looking little thing (SCOBY or commonly called “mother”) into a delicious beverage by combining sweet tea, ‘starter’ kombucha, and the mother.
Back in 2009 when I ordered mine, it did not arrive dehydrated but instead came with ‘starter’ kombucha. Now when you order, your SCOBY will arrive dehydrated and you’ll rehydrate it to make your first batch, using sweet tea, vinegar, and the dehydrated SCOBY. Don’t be dissuaded by this! It’s totally worth the wait. 🙂
Once your mother is rehydrated and ready to use, you’ll have so many options for making a wonderful brew. (Check out my friend Wardee’s kombucha recipe here) I usually have a gallon jar of kombucha going, especially during the summer months. The bubbly zing is very refreshing.
Often, if we’re drinking lots of kombucha, I’ll start a gallon to brew and then a week later start a second gallon. We brew our kombucha from 14 to 21 days. At 14 days, I find it a little sweet. At 21, my son and husband find it a little tart. 🙂 I stop the brew somewhere in between to reach a happy medium. To keep track of how long it’s been brewing I write the start date on my jar with a sharpie. Very helpful!
After the first brew is completed, I’ll sometimes do a second ferment. This is a great way to get even more fizz and add some different flavors.
My favorite second ferment flavor addition is about 1/4 cup of lemon juice and a 1/2 knob of grated ginger per quart. YUM!
You can also do fruits in your second ferment. Frozen fruit works quite well.
Here a SCOBY, There a SCOBY, Everywhere a SCOBY!
SCOBYs are quite prolific.
Every time you brew a new batch your mother will make a new SCOBY (sometimes called a baby).
The new SCOBY can then brew its own batch. This is super! And so helpful when you want to have more than one batch going at a time. However, you may soon find yourself with SCOBYs taking over your kitchen.
Passing these off to friends is always great so they can make their own brew. At some point, you could run out of friends. 😉 Then you get creative.
When you have surplus mothers, it’s a great time to experiment.
- Maybe you’d like to try a different tea flavor?
- Or how about kombucha coffee?
- Or maybe you’d like to switch to honey as your sweetener?
Give it a try! No biggie if you lose a SCOBY since you have them running out your ears.
Need more ideas for those runaway SCOBYs?
Create a SCOBY Hotel. This is a great way to stack and store your SCOBYs. Traditional Cooking School has a lot more information on this.
SCOBY Candy. I haven’t made this but have thought about it a few times. Maybe soon. 🙂
Taking it to the Next Level
Can’t get enough kombucha?
If you really love your ‘buch, you may need a continuous brew system. It’s the perfect way to always have kombucha “on tap.”
You can bleed your kombucha off the continuous brew system into smaller bottles for a second ferment or enjoy straight out of the tap over ice.