Thursday, February 21, 2008

Three Batches a Brewin'

Well, I bottled up my first batch from my gifted SCOBY, we'll call her anessa. My batch with the Austrian self-grown SCOBY is still thinking about getting a move on. The good news on that batch is that time has helped it move along and the SCOBY is finally opaque and the tea is getting fizzy. It was on Feb 7 that I started that batch and I think I have another few days before bottling.

I enjoyed bottling this fresh, perfect SCOBY batch, but I never got any labels on them as I drank them to fast. I went straight for the additives and combined a variation of bottles with dried organic blueberries, dried mango and ginger juice (no slices, just pressed juice).

The mango is AWESOME, however it looks and feels disgusting coming out of the bottle. Major YUCK; but I ate it anyway.

Ginger juice alone is not the best option. I will use a combination of juice and slices in the next phase. I used this ginger grater (whihc I love) and pressed the shredded ginger until juice ran into the surrounding moat. It wasn't a bad idea, but I think the slices actually helped produce more carbonation.

So, I found some bottles at a local sandwich shop. They use glass gallon bottles for cherry peppers and I acquired three jars from two locations. The only issue I see is the narrow opening, might be challenging for a variety of reasons, but hey, free and seems to be cookin' my brew fine. In fact it has more of a strong black tea taste than the other batches.
So, I brewed these two batches on Saturday, Feb. 16. The narrow SCOBY from Vanessa was put in the tall cherry pepper jar and Vanessa's baby went into a a new batch in the Target/Anchor Hocking jar. My Marianna batch is in a AH jar as well.
All are bubbly and smell like Kombucha!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bubbles, Bubbles & More Bubbles!

Yippee! I have the perfect batch of Kombucha brewing thanks to my gifted SCOBY from Vanessa. The brew is moving, the SCOBY is nearly lifting off the surface of the tea due to the formation of beautiful carbon dioxide. Look at this picture I took last night of the bubbles forming (left) and then the photo from this morning (right). Those bubbles have even expanded since I took the picture.

One little bubble on the right is fizzing and I keep seeing them pop up every few seconds from the bottom. Who knew this science experiment would be so much fun, but I guess since I am sitting here with the bottles on my desk I can't help but report every change.

My original batch mother is creating some bubbles too, but much smaller and the new baby SCOBY is growing pretty slowly and quite thin as pictured here. I am curious how much size matters.
My bottled Kombucha is pretty darned good and adding the ginger sure brought some fizz and reduced the sugar as fermentation continued. The cranberries helped too, but I noticed more fizz in the bottles with ginger. I have two bottles left and one is my test bottle with only Kombucha. I don't want to drink it--it's special. I want to hold onto it FOREVER.

Ok, this is getting weird. Here is a picture that shows the gifted culture, which came from a narrower bottle, hiding under the new baby that has grown on top (did I mention the bubbles?).
I need to give these SCOBY original's names; as they reproduce this is going to get very confusing!

Friday, February 8, 2008

New Batch from a Gifted SCOBY

I drank a bottle of my recently packaged Kombucha. I had a cranberry and ginger infused bottle and it is sweeter than I would prefer, but I think that will dissipate as the Kombucha ferments a second time inside the individual bottles. One thing I did enjoy was a bit of fizz! Yea!

I went on craigslist to look for glass containers and found a woman who was offering up some of her extra SCOBYs. I e-mailed her and we met up last night and she let me try different bottles she was brewing with a variety of teas; some black tea with vanilla, green tea with fruits, a wide collection I have to say.

She peeled me off a fresh SCOBY and gave me a cup of her team and tonight I am brewing up some tea to sit overnight to cool. Tomorrow we should be off for a brand new batch.

Update on my virgin mother SCOBY that grew from my Austria friend, the tea appears to be happy forming thin layer across the top and some squiddels underneath. More to come later.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bottled and Labeled: Packaging is Everything!

Well, My SCOBY got to be about 1/3 inch thick and the tea still tasted a bit like an apple cider drink, but there hadn't been much change in the SCOBY for the last few days, so I decided to bottle her up.

I made a fresh batch of tea and sugar yesterday, so it was cool and ready to go. I grabbed the SCOBY and all its mess and transfered it to the new tea. I then assembled my bottles, funnel and a glass measuring cup to pour from and got to work. After each bottle was almost full, I added dried cranberries and/or slivers of fresh ginger. I left one bottle plain and some with one or the other, just to test out the flavors. Sean said that gives the Kombucha some extra fizz, so we'll see how it goes. I topped off each bottle and began making my labels.

Ok, so I come from the world of marketing and branding, so this is a very important part of the process for me. I am, however, no design guru, but I used a beautiful mandala that I colored and produced a very pretty label that I affixed to each bottle.

My beautiful bottles are now sitting, waiting for nature to take its course, and I tell ya, I want some fizz!

My new mother SCOBY is floating at the bottom of the new batch and sitting near the heater at about 78 degrees. I probably shouldn't have done this, but I put all the globs of goo from the last batch, plus one cup of tea in the new container. The globs from the bottom seemed too important to leave out and what the heck was I going to do with them anyway?

I was thinking that these globs might be good for my chickens (yes, I have two hens named Hazel and Myrtle ), but I'd have to research that a bit before I subject them to all that live active culture goo.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Day Five: Kombucha Culture Experiment Growing!


Pretty cool huh? If I wasn't afraid of giggling everything loose, I would clean the outside of the glass jar.

I am fascinated with the tendrils of goo hanging down. She is sitting at about 75 degrees most of today.

This project is going to save me $3.00 a bottle, but cost me a fortune in electric bills!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

More Goo Floating on Top

Nothing terribly exciting to report, but I thought I would post a picture of my Kombucha baby forming at Day Four.

Today the temperatures were in the low 70s outside, so the brew sat at about 76-78 most the day, even with the heater off.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Something's Growing in There!

Well, today is day three of my first batch of Kombucha. I am seeing a very fine layer of film across the surface and dangley Kombucha goo forming. The tea is pretty opaque, but if I shine a flashlight I can see the squiggles. Also, on the bottom sides of the container, I see sludge at the bottom with dark bits of sediment.

When I took off the cover off the jar to take this picture, I smelled a strong apple cider vinegar smell.

I have kept the temperature between 70 and 75 using a space heater behind my desk. Last night, after I turned off the light bulb, which was producing some heat, I think it got as cool as 68 degrees, but the weather warmed up today in the 60s. Texas is very weird; the threat of sleet yesterday and temperatures with highs in the upper 30s and today was a bright, crisp sunshiny day and I sweat working in the yard.

I bet I have more to report tomorrow, but I am pretty thrilled about all this. A baby is growing!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My First Batch of Kombucha Tea Sans Baby

This morning I set out to make my first batch of Kombucha Tea. I have been drinking GT's Kombucha for some time, but after paying $3 each I became obsessed with making my own.

I met a woman from Austria named Marianna, who brought a Kombucha culture to the US on vacation (Shhh! Don’t tell) and she made batches of the tea while she was here. She shared some with my husband and I and offered to leave me a culture, but forgot as she zipped back to Austria.

Her K-Tea was very different from GT's Kombucha in that it wasn’t as fizzy and had a sweeter apple cider vinegar taste.

I began doing research online and found a lot of great resources and recipes for making your own. The recipe was easy to understand and they also sell cultures and kits.

Well, I am too impatient to wait for a culture in the mail, so I began researching if you could make the tea from a bottled tea that contained some of the live culture in it and it seems you can. We’ll see with my first batch.

My last bottle of K-Tea from Marianna was sitting in the fridge begging to be consumed when I picked it up to see how much culture was floating around. I jumped with glee when I discovered a baby culture floating around in a perfect circle, so this bottle will be my starter and hopefully a SCOBY (the name for the culture disc) will grow from that little baby floater.

I am following the directions at the link above to the tea, although I bought organic raw sugar and organic black tea. I found a cool one gallon jar to use at Target for $6.99 , but really any glass gallon jar will work. I don’t eat huge jars of pickles from Costco, so I didn’t have anything on hand.

It is cold as heck here in Austin right now and I don’t have central heat, so I had to set up a little Kombucha station on my desk over my laptop and with a space heater close by to maintain the heat between 72 and 74 degrees. Wish I was that warm!

Here are the steps I have taken making the recipe linked above:

1. Bring to Boil 3 Quarts of Distilled Water

2. Add 1 cup of sugar (I use organic raw sugar) boil 5 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and add 4 tsp black or green tea in bags, loose or tea ball to steep for 10-15 minutes

4. Remove (strain) tea and let it cool to room temperature. Tea must be cool or it will kill the live culture. I let mine sit covered outside in 40 degree weather (told you I am impatient).

5. In my experiment, I added 12 ounces of bottled homemade Kombucha with a live SCOBY floating in it. This is about 12 percent of the three quarts of tea. You need 10-15 percent old batch tea and the scoby if you have it.

6. Let it sit for 6-10 days covered with a cloth or paper towel between 70-80 F degrees.

Get more detailed instructions from the links on this page. While I didn't read every website in detail, I found a bunch of great resources.

I'll update as I see changes in my tea. This is exciting stuff. Now I have to think about what to bottle it up in when its done.