The kombucha experiment is coming along nicely! In my last post I showed my first batch of bottled tea and my first attempt at a secondary ferment with raspberries. The bottled tea was left out to carbonate but after 4 or 5 days the tea had remained pretty flat. It still tasted great, but it didn’t have the fizzy bubbles you get in store bought kombu. The raspberry bottle was much fizzier and overall more tasty, so this post is about how to get that fizz!
With my next batch of kombu I decided to experiment. I picked 6 flavours out of the pantry and set up 6 bottles for a secondary ferment. From left to right we have lavender, cardamom, hibiscus, chocolate mint, calendula, and lemon balm (with the exception of the cardamom, these are all plants from our garden!)
I put about a tablespoon of each herb into the bottles, and threw in a couple of raisins to help feed the fizz. The fizz is the result of the cultures eating the sugar, so adding some kind of sugar to the secondary ferment is what makes the bubbles. Bottling the tea straight from the initial ferment is tasty, but it hasn’t had time to build up a lot of carbonation. If you are adding fresh fruit there will be enough sugars to make fizz, but with just herbs or if you prefer straight tea you have to add a little something to act as the food source. I read online that raisins work, also a small amount of sugar or even some honey. I went with raisins and it was a success!
^ Look at all the carbonation! After letting the bottles sit for about 5 days I poured each one through a fine strainer to remove the particles, and recapped the bottles. The hibiscus was especially bubbly, and so was the calendula. All were much much more fizzy than my first batch, though. Yay!
Let’s check in on the scoby, too! When I transferred my scoby into the new batch of tea it grew a new layer while fermenting. When I removed the scoby to harvest my most recent batch, I gently peeled the two layers apart and started up two new batches of tea with one scoby for each. They are multiplying!
The two batches are now fermenting away on my desk, forming a new seal on the surface of the liquid. It’s neat to watch it expand it’s skin to the edges of the jar to protect the tea underneath! It’s probably also forming a new layer of scoby that I can separate out for an additional batch when I harvest the liquid next. More and more kombucha, just like magic!
^ The scoby I am attempting to grow from scratch is also coming along nicely. I have had two batches grow mold on the top, so I tossed them out. This one is going strong though and has formed a thin layer across the top of the liquid. Once this one thickens up I will have 3 scobys on the go, and I’m sure many more to come. Kombu is so easy!