Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Homemade Ambrosia

Well it's safe to say that brewing kombucha tea at home is very rewarding. Not only is KT simple to prepare, but it's quite inexpensive. Each bottle costs less than $.50 cents to make. I've also found kombucha brewed at home tastes better than store bought KT. I like to make my tea solution a little stronger to increase the residual tea taste in the final product.

My apartment, during the late Winter/early Spring months, is around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. I've found that 10 days of brewing accomplishes a nice cider flavor while leaving enough sugar in solution for bottling. After six days of being bottled, the yeast has had enough time to convert sugar into C02 and alcohol. There is some sugar left. I had been using around 1 and 1/4 cups sugar. The batch I started last week was cut to 1 cup to reduce final sugar content. I'm looking for that optimal range for my brewing conditions v.s. temperature.

My favorite cup. I drink KT and wine from this guy, sometimes aqua.
With a kombucha tea at about 16 days total, I'm well on my way to refining my techniques. I suspect a longer bottling phase would further convert sugar into C02 and alcohol... If only I was more patient. Nonetheless, this homemade ambrosia, from black, green and white tea, is simply delightful.

Monday, March 9, 2009

When the Time is Right, is it Time?

Let you and your body decide.

At about 8 days of brewing, the white tea and green tea jugs are doing really well. Since this is the second time through the brewing cycle, I think all the microbes are fully activated. As mentioned a few posts ago, the yeast is going nuts with the CO2 production. One of my baby SCOBYs has a big 'ol bubble on the underside of it, like one of those goldfish with big bubbles on the cheeks.

Earlier today, I ladled some kombucha from each of the two jugs into a single drinking cup. It's way better than last batch, which was far too sweet and lacking in vinegar and fizz. My apartment is around 62 F, and at day 8, it is still a bit too sweet. The vinegar taste and bubbles are great though. I use a fairly simple test for sugar content. If you've ever had soda, you may know this already... The teeth grind test. My teeth will get sticky with sugar and acid sticking to them, and you should be be able to feel it. As sugar is reduced, this effect subsides.

I also tested my kombucha with some pH paper. I have congo red pH paper which I found on eBay. It reads from 3-5 which is what the range of Kombucha tea should be around. The pH indicated it was around 4, as the paper was partially activated.

I'm guessing 10 days until the kombucha reaches the right balance, since the weather looks crummy and cold in the next few days. Anyway, the one cup a just drank feels real good in my gut. It must be treated as an elixir, as that is precisely what it is... Not for the faint of heart. Lovin' this stuff.

Update: I bottled one jug, the white tea, at 12 days. The green tea I let go to two weeks, as it seemed to be fermenting slower.

I really like the ginger berry flavor, so I mixed a few bottled with it. I'm going to try to let the kombucha gather some fizz for a few days before I crack 'em open.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Remembering Fall

Last Autumn, I went for a hike in a small park near my place. I took some pictures, enjoyed the afternoon exploring... I remember why I set out that afternoon. I thought it was going to be the last decent day of Fall, and so I meant to soak up the elements.

It wasn't the last nice day, but it was one of the last few...
With Winter waning and rainy, dreary days to come, I look back until Spring wakes up. Autumn always makes me think of the smell of dead leaves baking in the sun.

Smells: it's how I remember teas the way I do.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bubbles You Say?

...Bloop, bloop bloop...

Only five days into brewing, there is some serious bubbling going on. I have more green tea brewing in the foreground, and a mostly white tea brewing in the background (had black tea starter).

The white tea is really chugging up a storm. There is a mother of size in there, and the bubbles have forced it from the bottom up to the top.A few hours before these pictures were taken, I push down on the surface SCOBY to allow some gas to escape. A few hours later, my mothers were all gassy again...

I was doing some reading online this morning about kombucha (as I cannot seem to satiate my desire for more information), and learned that the more you brew, the more CO2 is produced. Basically, when I received my SCOBY mothers, they were somewhat shocked from inactivity and transport. As the SCOBY mother (namely the yeast) begins to proliferate, it becomes more active.

It explains why my first batch of kombucha was a bit sweet, and not so fizzy. They are drinkable, but still to sweet for my taste. Also, I kept about 1/10th of the last batch in each container to keep the brew acidic. I think this allowed the mothers to get right down to business as soon as they were plopped in the jugs.

The more you do something, the easier it gets. That means me brewing kombucha, and the mothers' laborious duty of converting sugar and tea into acids, alcohol and CO2. And yes, it's okay to personify the mothers :D

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kombucha Batch, Numero Uno

After seven days of brewing and picking up a case of EZ Cap bottles, I bottled around two gallons of kombucha tea. Temperatures throughout brewing remained around 62 degrees with minimal variation.

Included are: Five bottles are Kenyan black kombucha (back row). Three bottles are Dragonwell/Long Jing kombucha (front left). Two bottles are Dragonwell/Long Jing with raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry and ginger (front right).

...For the flavored bottles, I simply cooked about 3/4 cup of mixed berries with about an ounce of water on stove top. Simmered about five minutes, and strained and decanted into bottles. The juice is about 1/4 of the entire bottle, maybe less...

At this point, I'm letting them sit out at room temperature. Bottles of kombucha that are raw and unpasteurized will create carbonation via anaerobic yeast activity. Since this is my first time brewing and bottling, I'm going to try the kombucha at different intervals with different bottles. After 48 hours of bottled time, I'm going to taste and decide if I should let the rest of the batch continue fermenting at room temperature. The final step is refrigeration and enjoyment. I have met a few people who have either never had kombucha, or have had limited experience with it.

I'm excited to share what I have helped create :D

On a final note, I immediately began brewing two more gallons of kombucha. This time, I'm brewing large leaf Bi Lo Chun in one container, and Yunnan White Tips (~Silver Needle) to the other gallon.

Let there be fizz...