Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why I love Craigslist

Periodically I browse Craigslist. Sometimes the musical instruments, sometimes the free stuff- even found an apartment on there for next year.

Following in suit of my last post, while browsing the free stuff section, I found a kindly women 'giving' away kombucha mushrooms. There was a donation of $5 per mushroom, and I was more than happy to oblige.

With that said, I purchased two fully developed and rather large mushrooms. Also new are two, one-gallon jugs that I bought from a wine and hop shop. The recipes I'm using to start of this shindig are:

1 gallon water, ~10 teaspoons Kenyan black tea, 1 1/2 cups raw white sugar, 1/2 cup kombucha starter, and 1 kombucha mushroom.

The second is all the same except about 8-10 teaspoons of Long Jing, Dragonwell.

Let the good times roll...

(The dancong jug is very slow going. There are bubbles, but without a mushroom, the formation is going quite slow. After 2 1/2 weeks, the liquid is still sweet, indicating the sugars are not being consumed by the culture. )

Thank you, Kasha, for the beautiful mushrooms.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Poor man's ginseng? Hmm... I might go as far as to call it wise man's ginseng.

Jiao-gu-lan supposedly contains 4 times the amount of adaptogens than either Chinese or American ginseng. I actually just got some American ginseng from my brother over the holidays, and can be saved for another post.

From my brief experience with this herb, it is quite sweet and can be great for the mind. The buzz, if any, could be described as a tea like buzz, but not from cafeine. I got a bag from TeaSpring a while back and recall it being quite good. I did not, however, want to keep buying the herb once I found out seeds are readily available.

I decided to buy seeds from Horizen Herbs, a company specializing in fresh, USDA organic seeds. They create all their own seeds and guarantee them fresh while in season. On the back of the package in the image above, it is stamped 2009. The proprietor also mentioned fresh Camellia Sinensis seeds are due soon.

This happy herb grows as a vine, and I think it would do quite well in a sunny window with some support stakes. Expect posts later this year on growing Jiao-gu-lan.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kombucha Project

Kombucha. Kombu, meaning mushroom, and Cha, meaning tea. Kombucha is fermented mushroom beverage which has become increasingly popular. There are no "mushrooms" in the tea, but rather a mushroom-like SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast).

After deciding that I wish to make my own kombucha, I brewed up a strong pot of Peach Phoenix Dancong Oolong to be the base of the tea. I then added a decent amount of vegan raw cane sugar (~1 cup), extra spring water, and half a bottle of GT's Raw Organic Kombucha Original Flavor. Total contents are about 1 Gal.

My hopes are that I will be able to grow my own SCOBY, which looks like a large rubber disc. Because the kumbucha that I added was raw, it contains small chunks of culture (which are naturally occuring). This should be enough culture to begin the creation of my own kumbucha drink. (notice the snot looking culture.)

Kumbucha can take anywhere from 1 week to a month to be produced, which is dependent on starting cultures, desired taste and brewing conditions. Since I don't have a SCOBY, and my climate is cold, I anticipate my kombucha to take around 3-5 weeks to form. I keep my apartment around 62 F, and kombucha prefers 70-80 F.

Day1: Dancong is very sweet with the addition of cane sugar, very pleasant, but tasted only as a point of reference. Small chunks of kombucha culture float near the surface. As the weeks progress, the sugar should be converted to bacteria and yeast, and a bit of alcohol.


Day 3: Smells of Kombucha waft in the vicinity of my brewing jug. A very good sign. If you are unfamiliar with the smell of kombucha, it is a bit like apple cider vinegar and champagne. Around the rim of the brewing jug are multiple attachment sites where culture chunks have been established. Happy progress.