…Kombucha!

It is the latest craze! Or so it seems.   Who doesn’t want to be on trend and be drinking the next best thing next to Dom Perignon in the middle of the afternoon?  Not sure how I came to drink the stuff.  Maybe because the bubbles are as delicate and as prickly of those in champagne and it is easier to get away with drinking kombucha than Dom Perignon in the middle of the a workday afternoon after all. Most of the time anyway.  Besides, I want to be on board and up with the latest trend in such concernings.  If you do too, look no further. I have a sneaky suspicion however, this article and my curiosities are debuting a little late though.  I am still drinking black lemonade.  Which came first, dunno.  Kombucha is a smelly, sparkly, sweet, tart, fruity, sharp yet smooth fermented tea packed with vitamins and extremely beneficial for digestion as it is a probiotic.  

First things first.  A “scoby” is necessary to make kombucha.  Scoby stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”.

At first I could not get an expert for questioning (I sort of tried it was the holidays). I also decide on google as good a resource as any and at the moment (lets be real, always) there seems to be ample “experts” from which to choose.  My first scoby I order from Goop.  Christmas.  2016. (Yes, it has taken this long) I start my first batch with rose hip tea. Yes, I read the instructions for making kombucha from the featured scoby coming from Mortier Pilon.  I want to see if reducing caffeine and sugar make a difference. Seems so.  Scoby likes more caffeine and sugar for sure.  I happen to be talking to my bestie about my recent “sort of failed attempt” and articles I had been reading on kombucha.  One of which is an NPR article discussing the benefits of this 4$ funky tea. She and her boyfriend of thirteen years down the stuff sometimes at least twice to three times a day!  They had started to making it.  Getting to costly.  Those four dollars a pop (sometimes more) adds up.  So, as far as I am concerned, she is an expert now.  Geminis are or at least make you think they are experts.  See article from NYLON magazine  A Tribute to Gemini, The Low-Key Psychopath of the Zodiac for more understanding of the reference, although all not applicable, obviously.  Anyway and besides, we need a play date so time to crank up the Volvo and off to Pasadena I go to learn how to make kombucha from the non-expert expert my best friend, Jessica.  Before I meet the actual experts anyway. Six months later, but yes, I have some lined up. 

 

Jessica’s Kombucha in Pasadena, CA

According to Jessica..

Kombucha needs a scoby in a home, the home is previously made kombucha liquid batch equalling about one cup, that will live in a glass vessel cleaned with white vinegar and water which has air dried.  Cooled room temperature tea sugar mixture is added to about one to two inches from the top of the jar.  Water is then added. A cotton cloth covers the opening with a lid or rubber band.   Ideal kombucha temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  You can ferment once or twice and for as short as five days or as long as two weeks.  This all depends on what you and your taste buds like.  And like wine, smelling is most helpful during the making process. Scooby eats the caffeine and sugar and reproduces.  Semi dark area and air is needed for scoby to breathe and thrive.

The Recipe: (from Jessica’s)

8 black tea bags

1 cup of sugar

Boil water then add sugar once boiling. steep tea bags and let cool. It must be room temp otherwise you’ll kill the scoby.

Once cools, gently pour scoby and home into a gallon jar. And then top with water.

Cover with cotton cloth and then patience. Check in seven days. If it smells it still tea. I’ll know because it smells like kombuchcha.  Then, once ready, part two.

To add fruit, cut into pcs that easy to put in and out of bottles that you will use..

Then leave for longer the fizzier you like it but not too long, because the bottles will break.. they cap should be turned on occasion to prevent breakage and release some air…

Refrigerate to stop fermentation

Jessica’s Kombucha and work space

Jessica’s jars and scoby.

chop the fruit while tea is cooling for a new first batch, The second fermentation requires some fruit (in her opinion) and adds flavor and this is where the bubbles come in.. she chooses strawberries and ginger for this batch..
also while tea and sugar are cooling she pours komucha from first batch out into recycled synergy jars (another kombucha brand) for the second fermentation stage..

chopped fruit is dropped into bottle before closing for second fermentation

2nd fermentation ready..she will label jars with dates..
this scoby is coming home with me

 

 

My first batch from Christmas still produced a scoby but the batch was a fail…

screen shot
Pretty color..this scabby looks a bit waxy..
I let this sit for a couple of months.. I eventually discarded but could have probably used to make salad dressing and made scoby yummies candies..

So, after Jessica’s I start again..

My little scoby and home waiting for tea..
starter tea.. don’t want to use anything too expensive in case I screw this up.. see chocolate post.. many I used a ton of Valrhona chocolate.. mostly wasted..

my tea brewing late night..
and I like how this photo turned out.. half black tea and half oolong tea..
poured tea into host batch or home as it were called in Pasadena … this is after a few days..
a closer look
choosing bottle to go for my first fermentation
mango seems to be great.. it is sweet..

I muddle the mango and the pour tea from main batch into another jar with the mango for second fermentation..
inside the jar..

Time passes and my mango kombucha second fermentation is ready..

this first test batch also produces a perfect round scoby..

 

I repeat the process and soon realize that I need more jars..

starting with tea boiling..

my scoby is reproducing rapidly..I purchase another jar from Amazon and start again..

I usually despite using a funnel still spill kombucha on my counter..

more scoby

I start a second fermentation with cherries and wait and while I wait, I sign up for a demonstration class and kombucha tasting..

Time to go to Downtown Los Angeles..

KOMBUCHA HUNTERS Adventure in Kombuch Home-Brewing:  A Beginners’ Brew-Along and Tasting demonstration and tasting class is set to take place in the Arts District at Faithful Artisans.

Today, I “go green” and get on the M28 bus to Downtown Los Angeles.  Los Angeles Metro is really great and I am not sure why more Angelenos don’t use it.  I walked to work and took the bus even when I had my car.  Adjustments must be made for certain outings, but public transept isn’t terrible.

 

at the bus stop..

First part of my bus ride on the M28

I get off the M28 in the Diamonds District of DTLA and hop on the crosstown 40.  Somewhere between the diamonds and the arts is Skid Row.  Tanned skin human skeletons, resembling humans, are hunched over resting, waiting for the next fix or their next meal. I don’t know.  Tents and and sleeping bags line the streets and alleys.  Graffiti, which I happen to think is very cool, is everywhere.  I even spot Colette’s Wings.  The thought of something angelic here is comforting.  There is perspective.  Real.  Very sad.  I am soon paying attention to my phone’s lit screen.  I miss my stop. Texting my friend, making plans about attending a sound bath later.  I walk back quite a way.  The blocks in DTLA often seem shorter but they are long city blocks.  Almost Vegas style.  Just when you think you are almost to the destination, nope.  A white bearded gent pulls along side me and asks if I need a ride.  Yeah, no.  Thank you sir.  Keep driving your van.  I round the corner at the 76 Station and immediately know where I am.  Ruth Caffe is at the end of the block.  Music is playing.  The streets bustling. I enter the white brick building.  Class time!!

Kombucha according to the experts: (copied from my notes and take home material)

The first three things you need to brew kombucha are as follows:

  1.  positivity- a positive state of mind as scoby can feel as its alive.  Some kombucha makers even play music for their brewing batches.
  2. preparation- all tools need to be ready
  3. patience-this also means acceptance that the process takes time. The warmer the temperature in your brewing area the shorter the brew time.  The cooler the longer.  Five days to two weeks.  Kombucha loves warm.  75-76 degrees F ideal.

Need these to make a batch:

Spring water, sugar (organic cane as scoby likes this the best), caffeinated tea (you can still brew with herbal tea but the outcome will not be the same), steel pot, wooden stirrer, tightly woven cotton cloth, rubber bands, glass bottles of choice with tight seals (optional ph and temperature gage), I scoby, starter liquid (where scoby should already be living) 10 tea bags or five tablespoons of caffeinated loose leaf tea (tea ball is helpful here)

Brewing Instructions:

please read carefully <for one gallon of kombucha>

Boil 2 cups of purified spring water in a large pot.

Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup of organic cane sugar until it dissolves.  Drop tea bags (or 5 tablespoons of loose-leaf tea) of choice.  Let steep for 5-10 minutes and remove.  Add 14 cups of purified, room temperature water.  Cover the tea, and let cool fully to room temperature.  Do not leave tea for more than 2 hours, as it can start to mold after that.

Once the tea has fully cooled you can start with you first batch.  Clean your glass container thoroughly.  Pour in your tea.  Pour half of the started liquid that came with your scoby.  Stir in the scobygently.  Pour in the remaining starter liquid.  Cover the container with a cotton cloth (you can also use a paper towel) Make sure there are no holes.  Secure with a rubber band.  Place the container in to a dark area.  Make sure the area stays around 77 degrees F.  Leave to brew 5-14 days, depending on how tart you like it.

 

after 5-154 days, yo are ready to bottle and flavor.  Produce your clean bottles.  Add flavors of your choice (juices, powder, fresh fruit, herbs, etc) or none at all.

Pour kombucha into bottles.  seal the bottles tightly.  Set aside at the room temp for another 3-7 days to carbonate further.  You can burp the bottle(s) on day 2 by slightly opening and closing the cap or flip the top.  After 3-7 days, place the bottles in the fridge to stop the fermentation.

Your Kombucha is now fully ready to share.

 

Note:  clean each brewing jar after 10-12 brews

***Fun fact:: have too many scoby?  Cut them up and make sweet and sour candies.  Move over sour patch kids..;)

 

class demo work station..I don’t take too many pictures or video during class as I am scolded after this photo.. “no pictures yet” my phone charges across the room for most of class so there goes that..
really cool wall next to my seat
suggestions of teas and spices are passed around for first and second fermentation.  Assam tea is from India.  Chrysanthemum and lavender as well as dried fruit or room temp syrups or fruit can be added to second fermentation.  That when the sparkles/bubbles come.

 

various teas used in class
after my scoby batch is full and working a tasting happens.. see my jar to the right.. I taste from this one

the cooler with Kombuchas from all over and not available in California
we are given tickets…each ticket is a taste.

kombucha hunter aslos has some their own kombucha available for tasting..

Coffee kombucha from Mexico..takes a while to open this bottle.. I save this tasting for last anyway

After kombucha demo and tasting back on the bus I go.. Kombucha in bag..

removed the fabric and replaced with lid screwed on tight.. time for a bus ride..
scoby in my bag

lid still on tight..
me (obviously) on the bus with scoby

 

After kombucha class, I start to experiment more.  I use chai tea and bring out some sweet syrups I got from some liquor sales person once upon a time.  They may make great flavoring for second fermentation.  I usually don’t go through the second process though.

chai tea and sugar
the boil and the tea bags (10 instead of 8)
the steeping and the cooling
sample packets I consider for the flavors..while i watch the steep..
this is an example of what to do when you burp the bottle as not to lose any precious liquid.. bag over lid to catch any possible spraying, gently open..a bowl catches additional spill.. nothing lost

 

To be continued…

 

 

Scoby in the scoby hotel.. when multiple scoby live in the same jar, the kombucha ferments faster..
Scoby Hotel

 

Komucha on tap…

Gratitude Beverly Hills an this place has a great vibe and delicious Kombucha on tap

Need mine to go..

 

Red Hot Summer Kombucha

 

Alo Yoga Beverly Hills

Au Lac

Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose

Make Out in Culver City

Gelson’s Studio City

Studio City (Thanks Bree for the photo)

 

 

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