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"Our lives are a book that has already been written. The brilliance of the plan is that we are only given a chapter at a time..." ~A. Drayton Boylston

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Home Brewed Kombucha and its Awesomeness!

I am ecstatic today, as I was finally able to get a few Kombucha starter kits and begin making my own `buch! :)

I've been wanting to make Kombucha myself since I've been hooked on it and spending $4 at least once or twice a week on a 16oz. bottle at either Whole Foods or Hannaford.  The Synergy brand, especially with the chia seeds, is amazing.

It is definitely an acquired taste.... the first time I tried it the flavor was rather shocking.  I didn't really know what it was the first time I tried it.... so the tartness coupled with the carbonation caused me to make a sour face.  Not only that, but I could tell there was alcohol (very little, and its naturally created during the brewing process) in it because I immediately felt the mild effects of it.  But once I tried my second bottle.... that was it.  I was in love!!!! :)

And when I researched it, I found it had amazing health benefits!!!!!  It contains bacteria that is good for your body, and helps you feel refreshed and energized.  I can tell when I drink it that I am doing something great for my body.  And it has played a major role in finally kicking the soda habit..... I love the fizziness and find that I don't miss soda at all.

Here are some more health benefits of Kombucha, from the Kombucha Kamp website....

*Probiotics – healthy bacteria
*Alkalize the body – balances internal pH
*Detoxify the liver – happy liver = happy mood
*Increase metabolism – rev your internal engine
*Improve digestion – keep your system moving
*Rebuild connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism
*Cancer prevention
*Alleviate constipation
*Boost energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*Reduce blood pressure
*Relieve headaches & migraines
*Reduce kidney stones
*High in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer
*High in polyphenols
*Improve eyesight
*Heal excema – can be applied topically to soften the skin
*Prevent artheriosclerosis
*Speed healing of ulcers – kills h.pylori on contact
*Help clear up candida & yeast infections
*Aid healthy cell regeneration
*Reduce gray hair
*Lower glucose levels – prevents spiking from eating

So you see.... how could I NOT make it and have a continuous supply???  Its miracle in a bottle (or jug at the moment).  

The awesome thing about home brewed Kombucha, in my opinion, is that Kombucha just keeps making more of itself, and you will never run out unless you decide to just stop making it.  The bacteria, called a Scoby (and the first one is called the Mother Scoby), that starts the brew grows another one during the brewing process (called a Baby Scoby).  Once the Kombucha is fully fermented (which takes anywhere from 7-28 days depending on how you like it to taste), you can bottle it and reserve a cup of the tea and the Scobies for another batch.  You can separate the two Scobies and make two different new brews, or you can use both the Mother and the Baby for one brew (which makes the flavor deeper).  And you will always have Scobies because a new one will grow in every batch.... to the point where you either need to give them away so other people can start their own brews (Scobies can keep up to three months refrigerated with a little bit of the tea), throw them out, or keep adding batches and eventually becoming a Kombucha factory :) .  Sounds good to me!

Kombucha is also very friendly to all kind of flavorings.  The flavoring is done during the bottling process.... adding fruits, extracts, etc. to the bottom of each bottle, and then adding the Kombucha on top.  Adding ginger makes it taste like extra fizzy Ginger Ale.... and it tastes great with herbs as well.  If the brew is too tart for your liking, you can even add garlic and other flavorings to make Kombucha Vinegar!

Speaking of Vinegar, this ebook has some great recipes for making food with your Kombucha....
Learn to Make Kombucha
As well as all kinds of tips and tricks.

Along with vinegar, you can make ice cream, facial masks (my skin has been looking awesome just from drinking the tea twice a week...nevermind a face mask!), or even Scoby Jerky! :) Some people prefer not to eat the Scoby, but its actually really good for you and very palatable.  Even when bottled, the tea still grows Scobies....so you might as well get used to it and chug it down!

I thought some homemade brew would make great gifts for the holidays and to bring to parties or special occasions.... so I ordered some nice Cobalt flip-top 16 oz. glass bottles from Amazon.com.  I figured, what a nice gift.... the gift of health! :)

Kombucha Kamp is an awesome web site for learning to make your own `buch.  The owner of the company has some wonderful videos that show you exactly how to brew, flavor, bottle, and heat (during cold months) your batches.  They have awesome deluxe kits that come with a continuous brewing system.  However, as nice as they are, they are really expensive.  And in my research I learned that you don't need a continuous brewer.... because Kombucha is naturally continuous.....it will brew in any container that is safe for it (the best being a heavy glass gallon jug).  I noticed that the glass jugs were kind of hard to find though so I ordered this kit:

Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brewing Kit

Which comes with the gallon jug and a tight-weave cloth to put over the brew (you won't use the plastic cover for brewing) and a rubber band.  You can also use a washed and dried old t-shirt for the cover....anything that has a tight enough weave to keep out insects (fruit flies in particular are very attracted to the brew.... and by the way you can use some of your brew to make fruit fly traps!!!) but still allows the brew to breathe.  As great as the kit is..... it does not include the starter Scoby and you have to order it free online with a code once you get your kit.  I did that, but I also didn't want to wait.  So I also got this kit, mainly because it included a Scoby and the tea was an interesting flavor:

Kombucha Starter Kit - Coconut Green Tea

Come to find out though, you can also grow your own Scoby by purchasing a 16 oz. bottle of an already-made brew at a health food store, and allowing it to ferment further so that a new Scoby grows.  I found this out after getting the kit with the Scoby :)

I found that I was able to speed up the tea making part (where you brew the black or green tea and add sugar in a big pot and allow it to cool before pouring it into the brewing container) by using my ice tea maker (this is the one I have, and its awesome)- which uses about 4 cups of water to brew either loose or bagged tea.... and it just takes a few minutes.  After the tea was brewed, I added another 9 cups of room temperature tap water (tap water is ok to use, but distilled and Spring water are probably the best) and cane sugar to the tea (most of the sugar goes away during the brewing process!).  That way, instead of waiting hours for it to cool, I was able to pour the tea almost immediately into the brewing container and add the Scoby.

So right now it is fermenting!  Over the next several days I will watch it closely and make sure that no green fuzzy mold grows on top (if that happens, the brew along with the Scoby has to be discarded).  As long as the brew stays fairly warm, that shouldn't happen -- mold is very rare.  I attached a heat strip to the container, and the hours after leaving it alone, it is still about 82 degrees.... probably because my home is warm since I don't have an air conditioner downstairs.  I heard that anywhere in the low to mid 80's is a pretty much a good temp for the brew.  Anything lower than that and it takes a lot longer to ferment....anything higher and the Scoby will die.

So far so good!

Right now the jug is on top of my fridge, because I learned in my research that to keep it fairly warm, it should sit undisturbed on an appliance that is always running.... and fridges and water heaters work best.

The hard part is waiting!  I hope it turns out well, because I really enjoy the tea and looking forward to having a never-ending supply of it.  I figured.... if I can make soap and candles, I can definitely ferment tea :)

I am looking forward to reporting my results!

If this works out well, I want to try fermenting different foods as well.  I will be purchasing these books to get some more ideas...

Wild Fermentation
Real Food Fermentation
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods

As I move more toward a more healthy diet (I love the idea of raw foods, and a mostly vegetarian diet), ideas like this really appeal to me.

Stay happy and healthy! :)

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