An Ancient Chinese Secret
We have been brewing and drinking Kombucha, a fermented tea, for almost a year now. I know I will be brewing this the rest of my life because I love the taste. I love how it makes me feel. So far, I honestly cannot say I am noticing too much of the benefits that I have read about. Yet! Hopefully over time I will see more. I know it has to be working because it is an organic probiotic. What Kombucha does, it puts back into your body “friendly” bacteria that we are lacking. When we take antibiotics, it not only kills the bad bacteria that caused the infection, it kills the good bacteria our bodies need. They say it contains alcohol when you brew it but it is very minimal. That is why you should do your research. I admit I fermented mine with apples one time a little too long and woah! I felt a slight buzz! There are though, a couple of things I have noticed beneficially. I had a fatty cyst on my leg underneath my skin, though it was not visible; I could feel it and since I have been drinking Kombucha it is almost gone; I actually thought it was completely gone but if I press hard I can feel a miniscule of a bump compared to what it used to feel like. Maybe that is not from drinking Kombucha but I have not changed my diet besides that or healed it in any other way. Also I used to have chronic acid reflux. Because I drink about 32 oz a day of Kombucha I noticed that disappear as well. When I started brewing this initially I loved it so much I drank too much of it and it did have a reverse effect on me. It seemed to cause acidosis, so drinking too much is not a good thing in my opinion. Strangely enough, a fermented dill pickle for a snack after dinner keeps the acid reflux in check. Funny, if I do get a reoccurrence from a spicy dinner, I eat a fermented pickle and it is gone! Ha! I read that fermented foods are so good for your diet. Do some research; you will find a tremendous amount of information out there.
You can purchase Kombucha in many places now when you could only find it at a health store. The best brand we like is GT’s. We found it at Walmart (Walmart does not carry GT’s Original, I am sure there is a reason for that), and many other grocery stores. If you decide to brew your own, you can definitely get the recipe for brewing Kombucha all over the internet. The main ingredients for 1 gallon of Kombucha is, 1 cup sugar, 4 tea bags (2 green 2 black), a scoby which is a mushroom looking culture that is a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast and 1 cup starter Kombucha to begin a batch. The culture and yeast feed off the sugar in the fermenting process, so there is minimal sugar left in the brew. You can purchase a scoby as well from many teaching websites or from people who brew it. They do grow and grow and grow so instead of disposing of these beautiful living organisms, people sell them or give them away. My lemon trees love them and I feed them to my plants and treat my soil. I do have a couple of tips I can offer that I learned on my own that I can share with you here.
Many Youtube videos will guide you on how to grow your own scoby and they all tell you to use only GT’s Original Kombucha Tea. Any flavored teas will not produce the results I read? I have 4 gallons of tea brewing at a time and all my scoby’s are grown from GT’s Original. This is the simplest way I found to do this. You DO NOT need to make sugar tea to grow a scoby. Now you should never use metal, only glass containers or wooden spoons; plastic is ok for a quick use but always brew Kombucha in a glass container. My containers have a plastic spicket and I have had no problems. Do not use a metal spicket, I heard they deteriorate and you do not want that getting into your brew.
Grow A Scoby
So get a quart canning jar, pour your GT’s Original into it and cover it with a coffee filter and a rubberband, put it in a dark place with a fairly comfortable temperature, too warm can cause problems and too cold will delay the fermenting process. Maybe set it inside a cupboard or pantry. Don’t sweat it though; I was so paranoid I might be doing something wrong, but you will learn as you go. It works. The length of time your scoby grows depends upon the atmosphere. It can take 4 to 6 weeks. You will begin to see a thin layer form, it will get all bubbly and funny looking. By the time it is ready to begin your brew it should be about an 1/8 inch thick.
Brew Your Kombucha
When it is ready, brew a gallon of tea. A trick is, pour only a quarter of the gal.water that you bring to a boil, add 1 cup of white sugar, you’ll learn all about sugar from other websites, I use white (1 cup per gallon liquid) remove it from the heat and steep your tea. I use 2 organic green teas and 2 black teas. None of the tea should be flavored or Earl Grey- cautioned from other websites. Get your gallon glass container out. After your tea is done steeping, it will be really dark because you only still have the ¼ gal of mixture in there, add the rest of the gallon of water. Mix it, take out your teas bags of course. If your tea gets loose for some reason, strain it. The reason you add the rest of your gallon of water to your hot 1/4 gal. sugar tea mixture, is to quickly cool the liquid instead of having to wait hours for it to get to room temperature. Your scoby cannot handle hot tea, you could kill it. Now pour most all of your tea into the container but leave room for your scoby and starter tea AND room at the top. You will see in my pictures. Add your scoby and starter tea from your quart canning jar. Cover your gallon with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and rubber band and in about a week, you have fresh brewed Kombucha! To know it is ready it will taste slightly sweet and tart. Please make sure everything is always sanitized with no soap residue, we rinse with vinegar as well.
What I do, is bottle it when it is ready in flip top bottles or just reuse GT’s bottles with berries; strawberries are they best! I let those bottles sit 3 more days before I refrigerate them. You will have sweet elixir fruity soda pop. It naturally carbonates. They call this second fermenting. I always second ferment my Kombucha. Citris is a no no. Stick with the berries. I have used blue berries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, pomegranate,blackberries…oh and ginger! Lots of ginger, another favorite. I buy fresh ginger from our Asian store and candy it. Maybe I will do a recipe for that in another post. The teaching websites will give you detailed information about second fermenting. Just Google it.
A Couple More Tips
1)When you continuous brew your Kombucha, (meaning, after a finished batch, bottling it and leaving your scoby and a cup of starter in your gal. container and just adding your sweet tea to make another batch), you will eventually get a yeast build up on your scoby and in your container. You want the yeast, but I found I could only continually brew two to three batches before my yeast built up too much that it made my Kombucha imbalanced. It will begin to taste yeasty and like beer a little. That is when you can try to save your buch tea with second fermenting, clean your scoby off and gently peel away some of new or old scobies to store or give away or feed your plants, take starter off the top of your batch, clean your container and make a new batch of Kombucha.
2) I use clean scissors to cut the gunk off around my scoby, I know…metal… but I do it quickly and painlessly and I have never had a problem.
3) Carbonation can pop your bottles like champagne. I have lost ¾ of my delicious second fermented strawberry Kombucha all over the floor. This is a tip. Get a big bowl, grab a large gal. size zip lock plastic bag. Place your Kombucha bottle inside the bowl. Cover it with the zip lock bag, open the bottle of Kombucha inside the bag. Blast off! Your brew will be shielded from the bag and your tea is safely inside your bowl to pour into your glass. No loss, no mess!
I hope you enjoy your Kombucha as much as we do! Yum! Let me know if anyone experiences the benefits of this brew as I am looking forward to.
UPDATE: It is 2021, September, and I am still making Kombucha. I do not drink it everyday all month, lesson learned, and when it is ready to drink, we drink one a day then take a break. We love it, and continue to make it. All kinds of flavors. I still recommend!