Now that Suzie is safely at home we can return to our regularly scheduled programming! The Kombucha area of my living room has turned into a small factory. This is such a fun and easy process I’m not sure why everyone isn’t making their own kumbu. I haven’t been posting book hauls lately (I’ve been trying not to bring home loads of books but let’s be realistic books are awesome) but here are my two fermenting books and a book on mushrooms (more on that topic later!). True Brews is terrifically accessible and easy to follow. The layouts and graphics are great and the recipes look super good! The Art of Fermentation is quite a bit more in depth and covers just about any kind of fermenting you may wish to try, so it may be something I dig deeper into after the primer course provided by True Brews.
The batch that I started on October 28 (blog post here) progressed really well. The initial scoby sort of floated down onto it’s side, but a new scoby formed on the surface. After 8 days I began tasting the tea to see if it was ready. The longer you leave it the more vinegary it will taste, I stopped mine on Nov 9th which was the 12th day… it was a bit long but with the dog fiasco I literally didn’t even take time to bathe. But it tastes great so I’m not complaining.
To collect the tea I gently removed the scoby with clean hands and set it aside on a clean plate. The original scoby had turned a brown colour and felt limp so I thought maybe it had worked its magic and I put it in the compost. The old one is on the left in the photo below, the new on the right. Big difference!
^ The new scoby. It is between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick and feels firm and smooth. I think the brown edges are ok, as long as it doesn’t have mold on it things are fine, according to the book. These things are gross but they are also sooo interesting!!
Once the scoby was set aside I started brewing a new batch of tea. I did the same as last time; 1 cup of white sugar, 6 bags of black tea (twinings) and 8 cups of water set to boil on the stove.
You then set aside 2 cups of the kombucha you just brewed as a starter for the new batch. To reach the 16 cup/1 gallon quantity I would then need to add another 6 cups of cool water to the mixture. (After boiling the tea and sugar I filled my sink with cold water and placed the pot in, careful not to spill or mix anything up, to speed the cooling process.)
That leaves you with a lot of kombucha that is ready to move to the second stage. You have two options, you can pour your tea into bottles and screw on the lids to then sit for 1-3 days to built the carbonation or you can do a flavouring. It’s really neat to pour the tea that has been sitting under the scoby for 7-10 days and find it already soooo fizzy! Nature is fascinating. I filled 4 bottles with the tea and set them on the desk to build carbonation. I still had lots left so I filled a large clean jar and put in a handful of fresh raspberries. This can be done as a second stage process to give flavour to the tea. I fitted a coffee filter over the top with a rubber band and will let it brew for a day or two, then bottle the same as the other teas.
Once the tea has had time to carbonate you can move the bottles to the fridge to stop the process – you don’t want to leave it out because it will keep building and you might have a mini explosion on your hands! The book recommends using plastic bottles at first so you can feel the firmness of the bottle to confirm the carbonation, but I only had glass so I just went for it.
That was the first gallon jar, but I have two more on the go in an attempt to grow two additional scobys. You can do this by brewing 14 cups of sugary tea mixture and adding 2 cups of regular store bought kombucha (two cups is basically a whole bottle). One of the jars is forming bubbles and white bits on the surface and looks like this:
That’s good, I think! But the second jar started to grow mold like this:
Mold is a bad sign so I pitched the whole batch and started again with fresh everything. Maybe I didn’t clean the jar out well enough when I started the process. Growing a scoby takes longer, 10-14 days, and means the tea it grows in should be poured out. You can then use the scoby you grew to start a new batch of kombu for drinking.
I’m still super new at this so please confirm everything I’ve said with other sources, but so far I seem to be getting the hang of it!