Kombucha: Part 1

So, in an earlier post I spoke about how beneficial Kombucha is for your immune system, today I speak about how to take the bacteria by the horns and ride it all the way into fizzy greatness. Kombucha is only Kombucha when it possesses the magic of the SCOBY, which is actually a bunch of bacteria that is super healthy for you, the brewing process is culturing or fermenting, and it’s instilling in caffeinated, sugared tea the goodness of live, active bacteria that boost your health and well being. It’s also naturally effervescent due to the bacterial load, and can help stave people off of soda, which is essentially the devil. ‘Bucha Brewin’ is easy once you have the confidence to see the SCOBY as a living creature and can work with her to see what works best for her. Every SCOBY tend to be different, even the reports I’ve gotten from the split offs from my own Mama SCOBY.

Kombucha brewing requires a SCOBY (Symbiotic Combination Of Bacteria and Yeast), which you can grow for yourself at home, using a store bought Kombucha, or by finding a nice person to split off some of theirs for you to start your own, or (and it’s a big or) you happen to have a store by you that carries SCOBYs, like the ones from Oregon Kombucha Company. For those of you unable to obtain a SCOBY, I can give you the intel on how to grow your own, though it’s not fool proof, nothing living ever is.

 

My SCOBY a few weeks ago, a week after splitting her off 4 times for my coworkers and taking her down to about 4 inches by 4 inches by a half inch. She grows fast.

Buy living Kombucha from the refrigerated section of your local health food store. GT’s, High Country, Reeds, and Celestial Seasonings are just a few. They will be in liquid form and in the refrigerated section, the dried kombucha teas will do you no good here. Only buy Original Flavor, or unflavored Kombucha when preparing to grow a SCOBY, because if you get a flavored ‘Bucha, you’ll generally get a weaker SCOBY and the flavoring stick with the future brews. I’ve known of many who had good luck with the Originals, though. Now, when selecting, get one with the most amount of grossness in the bottom of the bottle. That grossness is actually yeast that can help to create the culture we’re aiming for. Now, bring that bottle home (maybe a couple of extra to sip on while you wait to brew your own, and an extra if the first try doesn’t pan out), drink a little out of that bottle, pour the remaining ‘Bucha into a wide mouthed container, add a little bit of sugar, cover loosely, and wait. A note about sugar: white, cane, brown, and molasses seem to all work, but honey has natural anti bacterial properties, which will damage and generally kill the SCOBY, which consists of a ton of bacteria. Amount of sugar doesn’t matter, just have a gentle hand with it. The sugar feeds the yeast and helps it start growing again, but don’t drown it out.

Now, this waiting game may take a week, or it may take a month. In warmer months it takes less time than in colder months, but if the yeast is weak from temperature fluctuations, handling, or time, then it’ll take longer no matter what month you start this adventure in. A healthy SCOBY starts growing bigger and stronger within a few hours, a weak one may never take off. You’ll know if it is working because a very thin, viscous, almost booger like mass will start taking form on top of the ‘Bucha, it will be even in color (generally colorless, but sometimes a light tan color) and width. Over time, it will get thicker and less boogertastic, but for its awkward baby and adolescent years, deal with it. Once this Baby SCOBY is about a quarter inch thick, move her into a pint jar or larger, always with a wide mouth. Now, you can make first round of Kombucha, though it might be a little rough. Teenagers are not known to be reliable.

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