Home > Personal Projects > Kombucha, just ahead of the recall

Kombucha, just ahead of the recall

I’ve long been interested in fermented foods.  Growing up, my mom started making sourdough bread after ordering (or being gifted?) a starter, and I just remember thinking how amazing it was that this weird alien thing in the fridge was making our bread so delicious, every day.  That was the spark.

In the early 2000s I got very interested in preserved Japanese and Korean foods, especially miso, umeboshi, kasu, and kimchi. I haven’t tried making my own yet, but I have a great book about making miso and will one day give it a shot (it takes over a year to make it properly).

When we moved to North Carolina and I started working from home full time, my interest in fermentation was rekindled and I grew my own sourdough starter.  I documented it pretty well and made some very pretty loaves before letting it go to sleep in the fridge. I will wake it up one of these days and see how it’s doing.

About six weeks ago, I started to get interested in the kombucha tea craze that’s sweeping the country.  My friend Eric has been drinking it for years and I never paid it much attention until I started hearing how expensive it was getting and how some stores weren’t carrying it any more.  I didn’t know at the time that it was fermented, or that it could be made by anyone just by starting out with an unpasteurized bottle of the stuff.  When I found this video on YouTube though, the game was on.

After a few trips to two different Whole Foods stores, we finally tracked down a bottle of usable Kombucha tea, and I got to work.  I boiled the water, added the tea to steep, poured in the sugar and waited for the temp to come back down into the 70s F before pouring in the tea.  It took about 6 hours for all that water in the thick glass, to come to temp. (I’d revise my process for next time).

Kombucha_1

Because I’d chosen a glass container (an old cookie jar) that was about 1.5 – 2 gallons in which to make my tea, it took nearly four weeks for the SCOBY to form on the top, and for me to determine that it was of sufficient size to warrant the batch complete.

SCOBY side angle

My SCOBY baby mother

I used a white tea to make the brew and while it was only mildly effervescent it was quite vinegary on the nose and sharp on the back end.  I gave a few bottles away to friends who drink kombucha regularly and they both remarked that it was very good, and quite strong.

For my next batch I used green tea which, according to online discussion boards, will make a milder kombucha that is better enjoyed straight than the black tea and white tea varieties, which are frequently blended with with fruit or other herbal teas.

Upcycled milk bottles

My newest batch made from that green tea is very light and lovely, perfect on its own over ice cubes. So far I’ve given away three bottles and all were met with high praise and hearty thanks, especially in light of the recent recall.

Having never been a kombucha drinker before making my own, I don’t have a broad reference against which to compare, but I enjoy my draught and find that I am nicely alert when drinking it.  (I think that’s the mild caffeine.)  I also find that I don’t slug it down like I do normal iced tea, due to the slight effervescence and mild vinegar nose.  It is best sipped and enjoyed.  The best part though is that I have a new batch about every 10 days, and a living community of weirdness, in my closet.

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  1. July 16, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Looks great, especially because I can’t have any.

    I have only had “home brewed” kombucha once and I found it delicious. Wish we were closer so I could try your batch.

    • July 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

      I’ll send you a snip of the mother if you want. Just let me know.

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