I got hooked on Kombucha when I tried Bliss Tea at the Kamloops Farmers’ Market. Rhonda made clean tasting Booch in mason jars and eventually took her hobby to big time manufacturing in Kelowna.
I liked the selection at Nature’s Fare but was horrified by the exorbitant prices for Kombucha. Why not make my own ? Shan’s Hibiscus Rosehips Kombucha But you need a starter culture or SCOBY first. (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) I saw one at Peavy’s in a pouch for 20 bucks and SCOBYs on-line for 30 USD. After asking around, my daughter scored one for me. While she was at a party, her hostess asked if she’d like to see her “pla*entas”. Seen a post refer to it as a slab of blubber or a “used con*om”. Sounds gross, but yes those SCOBYs look gross too. Remember it’s a living thing, just like a sourdough culture. It offers probiotics, good bacteria for a healthy gut.
Batch Process Simplified: Make sweet tea, cool, add a SCOBY plus some fermented Kombucha from a previous batch, cover with a paper towel, wait about 2 weeks. Repeat. Each brew’s SCOBY Mother makes a SCOBY Baby that you can store in a SCOBY Hotel for sharing or for Back Ups. For sourdough bread, you save some of the dough for the next batch. Likewise, you save a cup of fermented brew for the new batch of Kombucha. It helps keep the brew acidic to prevent mold. I’ve never had a bad batch in 2 years.
It doesn’t cost much to make. You need food grade glass jars and wine or beer bottles with swing top lids. My brew is undisturbed in the basement and kept happy with a portable heater. I tried, but didn’t notice a difference using fancy sugars or distilled water. So I use the filtered water from my fridge, plain old White Sugar, Orange Pekoe and Green Tea plus the Hibiscus-Rosehips Tea from the Bulk Barn.
Plain Kombucha is good. Flavoured Booch is better. It’s fun trying different flavour combinations during the 2nd fermentation. I use Ginger and Hot Peppers (Jalapeno, Serrano or Hot Chili Peppers) and an assortment of fruit. Best flavours from berries: Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blackberries. Small amounts of Lemon and Orange complement other fruits. I tried Peach, Nectarines, Cherrie, Kiwis but didn’t care for Apples, Pears or Plums. Experimented with a sprig of Mint, Cinnamon Stick and various fruit combos. If you like sweet stuff, Pineapple is fantastic. Whenever I cut up fresh Pineapple I save the woody core and freeze the matchsticks for Kombucha or sweet and sour dishes.
It’s a bit more fiddly and time-consuming to make flavoured Booch, but its worth the effort. Good things take time, right ?
Warnings: The Sugar in the fruit and Ginger will carbonate and make a nice fizzy Booch for you. But you need to release excess gas until you stop the fermentation (refrigerate). BURP your flavoured brew every 8 hours. Maybe less often if you start with frozen fruit. I’ve had a Maple Syrup bottle (not the best type of vessel) literally explode with glass and contents everywhere, a rude awakening for my daughter !
Protect yourself and your house when it’s time to strain out the fruit. Do it outdoors, preferably when the wasps aren’t around and wear plastic gloves and an apron. Release the gas gently if you can, otherwise do it quickly and be prepared for projectile spewing. I’ve had it spray all over the railing, deck’s ceiling and luckily the back door behind me was closed. Again put the BURP post-its on the fridge. If you messed up and you know you can’t safely BURP or strain your Brew then put the bottles outside until the brew temperature cools down. When really worried, I put my bottles in a box under an old table. Covered it with a towel and let it sit overnight, to make sure it stopped fermenting.
The SCOBY is yucky looking, but it’s a living, growing thing. Not sure if your brew is healthy then check these pictures before you chuck everything out.
Once, I thought I killed the SCOBY but found out that the temperature was too cold in the basement. The Yeast in your Baby eats the Sugar and needs warmth to grow. Now I use a portable heater and keep the brew temp in the high 70’s. Some people use warming pads or jar belts or buy expensive accesories on-line. I wrap a towel around the jar and stick a fish tank thermometer strip on the outside and check it once in awhile, simple.
When I didn’t realize that I just had a dormant SCOBY, I learnt how to create a new SCOBY from scratch. I tried 2 brands of store bought raw, organic Kombucha: GTS and Bliss Tea. Put the Tea in a wide mouth jar or bowl, cover with paper towel and it took about 4-6 weeks, but it worked…it can be done !