Friday, May 22, 2009

The Kombucha Experiment

Hello, my name is ________ and I am a soda addict.

How many of us can say those words? I can for sure! I know all the reasons I shouldn't drink it. But I do. Its easy- no glass, no ice, just pop open a can and drink. I like the mouth feel and the bubbles. In fact, I find I can't swallow pills without the bubbles. They feel stuck and choking for hours if I don't drink them with something carbonated. Its miserable and the last thing I need is more misery. So I give in and pop the top on another can.

Ive thought about ways to give it up. I tried drinking seltzer water. I paid a pretty penny in the store for bottles of the stuff and it would go flat and change tastes on me. When I could get it. Usually the bottles are covered in dust in the store and if you buy them all the stores don't restock them quickly. I guess they aren't a big seller. I thought about making my own with one of those ingenious Penguin things but they are really expensive for my budget and require you to constantly refill/replace cartridges. Pretty cool but I couldn't see myself keeping up with it. Maybe I will get one if I ever have the extra money and want to treat myself.

So how else could I give it up? I hit upon the answer one day while shopping in our local Earth Fare. I was looking in their refrigerated drink section for something to quench my thirst when I saw Synergy. I grabbed a cosmic grape and took it with me. One sip and I was in love. I was even more amazed to see that it was carbonated! I had to look it up online! When I did I found that I could make it myself for a lot cheaper than the $3-4 a bottle it was in the store. Perfect!

So I read, a lot. I wont bore you with all of it but if you want to learn about all the health benefits, terms, and details here are my favorite links:

Kombucha Exchange Worldwide- lots of worldwide books and people with starter SCOBYs. it is an amazing site with a free course and lots of information. His system is what I am trying out as it seems the simplest and best. I would have LOVED to have bought his continuous brewing system but its more expensive than my budget for this project, especially when I already have so much of it on hand. the usual method of creating Kombucha. Also this is the method I used to create my own SCOBY.

Of course I procrastinated about starting to make my own K-tea. I had other things to take up my time. It wasn't until I got a really bad stomach virus that put some of my friends in the hospital that I got a kick in the pants to start making my own. When I started feeling ill I started craving Kombucha. My darling Mr. Discontent drove my sick butt across town to Earth Fare and we stocked up. I drank nothing else for 4 days straight. It was all I could handle. I was sick but it wasn't the sickest I had ever been. By the fifth day I was OK. Some of my friends were still in the hospital. It took my friend with the mildest case of it two weeks to get better. I was sold!

I went to and bought a water crock to make my first batch in. I could have gone uber cheap and tried to make it in old pickle jars but I decided to splurge and set up a continuous system. (Did I mention its a splurge, look at the bad-ass Medicine Wheel design on it! Whoot!) I feel like I will do better with it. After all, I am disabled and it has to be something I can contend with on bad days. I was very satisfied with my purchase. I kind of hemmed and hawed about buying the stand with it instead of coming up with something homemade but I am glad I did. The stand took screws to set up, it wasn't just a fold away, and it has adjustable feet on it so that you can set it up so the crock doesn't wobble on the counter. I was also a bit alarmed. I didn't realize exactly how big it was. It was a sobering moment for me- I realized this was a bigger project than I had in my mind. Oh well.

I got a bottle of GT Kombucha and made it according to the directions at FoodRenegade. A couple of impatient weeks later. This is what I got.

See the white thing at the top? That is my SCOBY!

Isn't it cute?

So I took my little SCOBY and the K-tea it was in and put it in my big water crock along with 2 quarts of sweet green tea and covered it up and waited a week. I would have made a larger batch of tea (my crock holds 2 1/2 gallons I think) but I only had about 2 cups of starter with my little SCOBY. (If I had it to do over I would have used 2 bottles of tea in a larger container or two of the same sized ones and had more initial product. )

At the one week mark I peeked in my crock and you could still see the original thicker SCOBY but it had also grown a thinner SCOBY to cover the whole top of the tea. Whoohoo! It smelled vinegary and when I took a little nip off the spout it tasted that way too. I then brewed up 4 quarts of sweet black tea and 2 more quarts of sweet green tea, let them cool, and poured them in to my new starter tea. If my calculations are correct, it gives me about a 25% starter tea solution which is what a lot of sites I looked at called for in order to make the best tea.

Now I try to patiently wait while it brews. I also think I may buy some new mason jars to store it in for its second ferment. I have a bunch of saved pasta sauce jars but I think I would prefer to start with clean new ones with rubber gaskets.


  • My crock came with this plastic protector ring in case you put one of those water jugs on it. This thing has been perfect for holding a coffee filter and bit of cheesecloth over the top of my crock to keep out buggies. As you can see I have a rubber band backup just because I'm paranoid like that but I haven't seen any slips of anything.
  • Although everyone calls for plain white sugar and it WOULD be cheaper to use it, I still use dehydrated cane juice. Its what I have in my house and its easier for me to use than trying to find refined white sugar that is cane sugar and NOT made from GMO infected sugar beets! Say NO to GMO!!!
  • To make my tea I used my iced tea maker and set it to strong. I don't have a suitable pot to make tea in (all cast iron) and its easy to make consistent tea with it. I don't know how this will affect the quality of my tea and I may have to experiment with it a bit to get the right strength.
Now we wait till we can bottle!

1 comment:

Dwayne Deas said...
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