A new project revisited. Before we had Evelyn, we were making and drinking quite a bit of Kombucha. In all of the chaos of adjusting to the new baby it was forgotten about and died. Recently I was given a new one to start all over with. It is one of those acquired tastes...well a lot of people will tell you that it is a like it or leave it thing, but there are many others that will try it and not like it but have to try it again just in case, before long you realize that you really like it. If any of you don't know what the heck this science experiment in a jar is, it is a symbiotic bacterial(scoby) growth very similar to a vinegar mother which feeds on wine to make true vinegar, not the stuff made as a byproduct of the petroleum industry. It feeds on sweet tea...yes, you heard me right all you sweet tea drinking southerners out there. I can just hear it now...OH THE HORROR! You feed that thing sweet tea! Well yes, because it turns it into a really yummy fizzy beverage that keeps me from wanting soda, and other drinks and it is good for you. It adds beneficials to your system helps boost your immune system, adds B-vitamins, and apparently lots and lots of other healing properties according to the internet and other people who enjoy drinking it.
It feeds on the sugar and reduces the caffeine and what you are left with is a fermented drink that is very similar in many ways to apple cider. So fermented, you mean it is an alcoholic beverage? Yes, there is alcohol, but it is a fraction of a percentage so it doesn't affect you. You can brew black, green or a combination of teas. It is best to brew pure tea without flavors because the chemicals from flavors could alter the symbiotic relationship and could hurt or kill the organism. Recently I had Kombucha made with green tea and really liked it, before I only used the black tea. One of my favorite things to do after the batch is ready is to add ingredients for flavor. A few frozen fruit(peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and black berries are really good) pieces, grated ginger, lemon, orange, lime peels, etc...but I only add it after I remove the scoby.
It takes about a week for one batch to be ready and if you are wondering why it is called a mother, well eventually you will feel overrun with these scobies and you will not know exactly what to do with them. That's when you start your friends and family off with new 'pets' of their own...only if they want one and will use one of course.
At this point I am making ours in one one gallon jar it's best to use glass. Soon I will be putting my other jar to use since it is just sitting around.
So in case you would like to try your own, you can get them on the internet, or wait a few weeks and I will be happy to give you one of your very own.
How to Directions:
Place Scoby disc in a clean jar I used to use quart jars they worked really well. The disc will usually come with starter liquid it is very important don't throw it out add it into the jar too.
Brew some tea what ever type you would like, but just remember flavors are not a good idea(even Earl Grey) just plain tea(black or green) is best. While the tea is hot add some white sugar. Don't worry about any special sugars or good honey, it needs just plain old sugar to eat and when it is done most of the sugar is used up so it doesn't matter anyway. Besides honey has properties that may harm the disc.
When the tea is cooled either let it sit on the stove until cool or add ice or cold water to make the amount equal the whole amount you will be using. Pour your tea into the jar, cover with a towel or paper towel and secure with a rubber band. That's it now all you have to do is wait.
It will probably need to work for 7-10 days especially the first one you start. Once you start making it regularly, you can start testing earlier the temperature of your house will also affect how soon it is ready the warmer it is the faster it works. I like to test it after about 6 days to see how sweet it is. If you like it at that point pour it into a container or bottles to put into the fridge and start another batch or add some flavoring additives and let it sit out on the counter for a few more days and then put it in the fridge.
The disc gets put back into the original jar and used again. The reason it is called a mother, is because a new layer will form at the top of the jar, or attached to the original over time they grow thicker and form more layers and you can store the extras in a jar in some of the kombucha in the fridge, and share them. The only maintenance they require is to periodically pour some of the old liquid off and add some fresh kombucha so that it doesn't get too vinegary which will happen if it is left too long. This isn't a problem either because if it goes to far and becomes vinegary you can use it to cook with and in salad dressings like you would use vinegar.
So there you have it, an introduction to Kombucha as I understand it so far....