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Kombucha


Vian

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I just got into trying to brew my own Kombucha after reading about it on the Whole9life forums. I bought a bottle of GT's raw Original Kombucha and added a cup of tea with 1/4 c. sugar in a mason jar with paper towel on top held on by the jar ring. In 6 days I had a baby scoby...

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I went and got a glass drink dispenser at TJ Max (it's full of water to check for leaks) and washed it with distilled white vinegar.

 

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Today I think my baby scoby is ready to start brewing. I actually moved it too much and the first scoby sunk in the jar, so it started forming another one only a day later and it's already 1/4" thick. I boiled some tap water (our water is very tasty, just removing the tiny bit of chlorine in it) and brewed 4 green and 4 white tea bags in the water after it had cooled some. Green and white tea is easy to scald, so it's best to brew it at the same temperature you would drink it at, otherwise it tastes like burnt cigarettes. Since my drink dispenser holds 1.8 gallons, and I need to add in 2 cups of the old kombucha for acidity, I decided to do 5 quarts in my drink dispenser, so I did 1 1/4 cups sugar (1 cup per gallon). Once the tea is cool, I'll put it all in the drink dispenser and add my baby scoby!

 

Anyone else brew kombucha?

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I started brewing my own a couple years ago. I didn't bother going the gt's route though because so many people are giving away scobies on craigslist. I like a longer ferment for a more vinegar like taste. I'll ferment it for a month then about a week on the second ferment.  I've found some fruits work better than others. Mangoes worked well, berries work well, Pears and apples didn't work as well. I'm going to try macerating the fruit instead, maybe it'll impart more flavor.

 

btw, don't forget you're doing a second ferment, I forgot and left one sitting on the counter for a couple weeks. BOOM! Strawberry allover the kitchen lol.

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I looked on craigslist, and there was one person selling them for $10, but they said they were out and wouldn't have anymore for about 2 weeks. Then I was told there is a health food store here that sells them, so I called and they said they have a customer that brings them in and they give them away with a $10 purchase if you want one and they could give me a call when they get more. So I decided to just grow my own scoby because i'm impatient. I got some 32 oz. swing-top bottles for the second ferment. I plan to use fruit purees, and the first few times I'll probably put the bottles inside a large tub so if they explode, it's all contained, lol. At least until I get more familiar with the timing it requires.

"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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Here's my kombucha setup!

 

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"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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think I am going to try this... so I want to follow the expirement

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So it's been 12 days and I waited that long because I just haven't really had time to pour off my booch to do the second ferment. I tasted it today and it's nice and tart, but not vinegary, so I think it's perfect for the second ferment. The scoby has grown to cover the whole top of the CB container and is about 1/4" thick. It's not winning any beauty contests, but it's working really well. The booch that I poured off this morning is as carbonated as the stuff from the store already! And I haven't even done the second ferment yet! The CO2 is getting trapped under the scoby.

 

I poured off 2 quarts and I'm going to flavor it with a cherry puree and vanilla and almond extract.

 

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"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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It's probably about 75 in my house most of the time. I have the AC running, but it's been in the high 80's -low 90's outside here.

"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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The first flavor I tried - cherry vanilla - was not great. I tossed it. The second flavor, however, was peach ginger, and it's amazing! I pureed some fresh local yellow peaches with some grated fresh ginger and mixed it with my kombucha, then let it sit for 24 hours to infuse, then strained the kombucha through a coffee filter because I can't stand to drink the pulp, then let it ferment for 2 more days and then put it in the fridge to chill. It's sooo good!

 

Next flavor is going to be strawberry mint!

"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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I don't know kombucha brewing though I have a lot of experience with Ales, wines, ciders and meads. There we would expect primary fermentation (even if racked) to have finished before moving to secondary in order to prevent bottle bombs. Can you do that with this?

 

(Primary being not the first container it's in but the first round of sugar used in the process. Secondary fermentation has a controlled amount of sugar for yeast so you are aware of the pressures building in your bottles or containers. Is this possible with Kombucha?)

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I don't know kombucha brewing though I have a lot of experience with Ales, wines, ciders and meads. There we would expect primary fermentation (even if racked) to have finished before moving to secondary in order to prevent bottle bombs. Can you do that with this?

 

(Primary being not the first container it's in but the first round of sugar used in the process. Secondary fermentation has a controlled amount of sugar for yeast so you are aware of the pressures building in your bottles or containers. Is this possible with Kombucha?)

 

Sort of. If you played around with it, you might be able to figure out a ratio of sugar to length of time fermenting to figure something out, but it's so variable, that it would be tough. The temperature, the age of the scoby, and the strength of the bacterial colony all affect the length of time it takes to ferment. You can get some close guestimations though. Most people let it go for a baseline amount of time, then start tasting it daily until it tastes good. For the second ferment, I add the fruit juice plus about 1/4 cup sugar because I do like the kombucha on the sweeter side, then I let it ferment for 3 days to get some fizz. It is absolutely possible to have your bottles explode though. Someone on the whole9 forums had their bottles explode a few weeks ago. I let mine second ferment inside an ice chest so that if they DO explode, the mess is contained. But so far, if I burp the bottles, it doesn't seem like there's much pressure built up at all, but my booch is always nicely effervescent. 

"When I can no more stir my soul to move, and life is but the ashes of a fire; When I can but remember that my heart once used to live and love, long and aspire - O be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling before all answering love, and in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire." - George MacDonald

 

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I LOVE Kombucha! And had recently decided to start brewing my own again, since it is so expensive to buy. Seriously, $4 a bottle? But, when I used to make it, it was always sort of strong and vinegar-y, and drinking it would make me feel kind of nauseous sometimes. ): I am hoping that reducing the duration of the first fermentation period will help with this.

By the way, peach ginger sounds delicious!

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I'm brewing my first batches now. I'm starting to get a second SCOBY on batch #1 but my cohorts insisted we would need more, so batches 2 and 3 were started yesterday.

What kind of tea does everyone use? I have 1 batch that's all black tea, one that's all green tea, and one that's a mixture.

I'm afraid the green tea batch might be too bitter, but I wanted to try it because I read using only green tea will give you more carbonation.

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I'm brewing my first batches now. I'm starting to get a second SCOBY on batch #1 but my cohorts insisted we would need more, so batches 2 and 3 were started yesterday.

What kind of tea does everyone use? I have 1 batch that's all black tea, one that's all green tea, and one that's a mixture.

I'm afraid the green tea batch might be too bitter, but I wanted to try it because I read using only green tea will give you more carbonation.

If you add the green tea after the water has cooled down to room temp it shouldn't get bitter. Green tea has that tendency when it gets hot. I primarily use black teas, I've heard more caffeine = better too. Not sure about that much. As long as you're semi-sterile with your implements, there are no real hard fast rules about teas as far as I know.

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I have about 10 mason jars brewing at any given time. They live on top of my fridge. I'm converting my jar collection to half gallon jars because I can't keep up with my family's demand! We prefer it brewed with black tea. Once I used some high end pu-erh tea I got as a gift... oh. My. Word. That was delicious.

Also: you can compost scobys.

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