Hi! Hope you enjoyed your weekend <3 Ours was very relaxing and included some of the usual suspects: a trip to Mission to ride the carousel, takeout from Tender Greens and relaxing.When I posted the following kombucha pic on Instagram, I got quite a few requests for an updated homemade kombucha post. Here it is! (Curious to learn more about kombucha? Check out this post.)
So, it FINALLY HAPPENED.
After about a year (maybe a little longer?) of inconsistently making kombucha at home, I finally made some that tastes even better than store-bought stuff.
Orange cranberry ginger:
It was getting really close, and I was happy with the flavor combos I’d tried, but it was always a little too tangy, too sweet, not fizzy enough, etc.
After quite a bit of experimentation, I got the result I’d been searching for; it was a glorious moment indeed. A warm embrace was shared with the kombucha jar before holding the scoby in the air like a baby Simba while singing a celebratory chant.
(Ok, just in my mind.)
What I’ve learned in my homemade kombucha adventures:
-I follow the steps in this post, but will outline them again, updated with the current techniques.
1) The quality of the scoby (the starter bacteria that looks like a flat, opaque gummy disk) makes all the difference in the world. I got an awesome scoby from Amazon, but I’ve also ordered a dud that ended up molding. (A little tidbit about mold: a lot of people are rightfully fearful about making moldy or bad kombucha. If the batch is bad, it’s an obvious thing. You will know it’s bad just by looking at it. The scoby will have blue or greenish patches on it, and well, it will look like mold. Don’t drink it; throw it away to start over.) The scoby I picked up from the farmer’s market in Ocean Beach is a BEAST.
(That was the bottle from the farmer’s market, filled with scoby strands and starter tea. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. Shame on me.)
I’ve made multiple batches with said amazing scoby and also gave one to Whitney; she now has a full-up scoby hotel.
I like ‘em thick.
Scoby handling guidelines: always make sure your hands, tools, container, anything that comes in contact with the scoby, are fully sanitized. Do not touch the scoby (or stir your kombucha) with anything metal; it can destroy it. Use wood or plastic tools instead.
2) After you have your scoby, make your starter tea (black and green tea with NO added essential oils work well). I like the Newman’s Own organic black tea. 8-10 cups of water to 8-10 bags of tea (equal water:tea ratio). After the water comes up to a boil, I add the tea bags, remove from the heat and stir in one cup of organic sugar. Let the tea cool completely to room temperature before straining it and pouring into your kombucha jar (this is a perfect one).
3) Next, you’ll add about 2 cups of starter liquid (or whatever came with your scoby), and gently place the scoby on top. If the scoby and tea are the exact same temperature, it will float beautifully to the top. If it sinks to the bottom, NBD. Just let it swim around and a new scoby will grow on top.
4) Cover it with cheesecloth or a paper towel (covered to protect, but with something that will enable it to breathe) and secure with an elastic band before placing in a dark cabinet to ferment. Avoid looking at it while it’s fermenting, and start checking the taste of the mixture in about a week. This is where you’ll decide how tangy or sweet you like it.
Dip a clean plastic spoon into the ‘buch and give it a taste. If it’s to your liking, you’re ready for a second ferment! If it’s too sweet, give it a couple more days to become more tangy/acidic. If it’s too tangy, move onto the next step (flavoring and second fermentation) and add some extra fruit juice.
The duration for your kombucha fermentation will vary based on your climate and taste preferences. In hot Tucson, it was ready in about a week. In cooler weather, it could take up to two weeks. Be patient, young grasshopper.
5) When you’re ready for your second fermentation, this is the fun part: flavoring it! Get another jar or two (that has a flip lid, like these ones), or some Mason jars for the second round fermentation + flavoring the mixture.
Some things that work well to flavor:
-Fruit juice (apple, berry, orange)
-Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries)
-Herbs (lavender, dried ginger, mint)
Have fun experimenting!
To each jar or bottle, add some juice, herbs (if you’d like) and (this is KEY) some dried fruit (like dried cranberries or raisins). The sugar in the dried fruit will continue to feed the bacteria, and will also make the kombucha fizzy. Another thing that helps will fizz factor: dried ginger. This stuff is particularly awesome; a little (like a hefty pinch for each Mason jar) goes a long way. Pour the kombucha into each jar or bottle, but be sure to leave at least 2 cups of kombucha in the original jar to use as your “starter tea” for the next batch.
6) Seal the flavored kombucha and place back in the pantry (in a dark, temperate spot) for 2-3 days.
7) Next, you’ll transfer the jars/bottles from the pantry to the fridge to chill and enjoy! (if you used any “whole” fruits, herbs or berries, strain the mixture before sealing again to place in the fridge.
So what do you do with the old kombucha bottle (which now has the old “Mother” scoby in it + the new layer “baby” scoby growing on top)? You separate the baby from the mother (yes, this involves touching it with your hands and cringing as you peel the slimy layers apart). The baby scoby can now venture on its own into the world to make its own kombucha (so you can have two batches growing at once). Or even better: put it in a baggie with some starter tea and gift to a friend! The gift that keeps on giving haha.
A little tip: I only use one scoby for a max of two batches of kombucha, and then will switch over to the baby scoby. They become weaker with each batch, so it’s good to switch to a new scoby after a couple of rounds.
Hope this helped those of you who were considering making your own kombucha!
Kombucha: yay or nay? Have you ever made it at home? Anything unique that you like to make or ferment? I would love to experiment with homemade ghee or goat cheese!
Hope you have a lovely night <3
More adventures in fermentation: