Saturday, July 2, 2011

Detox Caution: Kombucha is Powerful Stuff

I took a long break from brewing and made a batch about three weeks ago with green tea. It was awesome! I love green tea; it is light, fizzy and very much like a vino verde wine to me without the "wine." It was so good, I immediately made up two more gallons and they are sitting now.

I was on my way to work one morning and grabbed the 26 oz jar of Kombucha that I put in the fridge. I drank as I worked and soon enough the jar was empty. I've had an occasional store bought kombucha in between my own brews, but I hadn't consumed much in some time.

Three days later, I feel like I am getting a cold. My eyes are burning, I am exhausted, my nose is stuffy and I have a major, serious headache. I rest, drink lots of water, and take my usual cold remedies, but this doesn't feel like my normal cold symptoms. It feels worse, but also not like a cold. Hard to explain, but I know what it feels like to be getting a cold and I know how to kicks its ass before it takes me down. This, was different.

Laying in bed, feeling bad,  I realized that I'd had this feeling before. A few years ago I was brewing kefir and drinking a lot of it. I felt like I was getting sick five or six times that winter, with similar symptoms and after some research, I discovered that kefir, like kombucha, is a powerful detoxifer. I read up on detox illness and quit consuming.

My symptoms went away and I quit getting "sick." I decided that kefir was some serious stuff and I needed to drink it with caution.

Well, it occurred to me that downing an entire 26 oz of kombucha without some prep for my body could certainly have the same effect. I was detoxing in a way that made me feel like crap! Actually, I don't so much see it as detoxing,  as an attack my body with an army of probiotics. My body had no preparation.

So, what do I take away from this? If you are brewing kombucha, start drinking slow. I seriously wouldn't drink much more than 4- 8oz a day for three or four days; maybe a week. I'm no doctor and don't play one on TV, but my experience says that you need to introduce this powerful and yummy stuff carefully.

I have read on some other sites about folks having detox illness/effects, but I don't think this is cause for alarm. The deal is, you have to give your body time to adjust to the powerful stuff in there. So, word to the wise new brewers, don't slam your first batch down in one sitting!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Try, try again. Kombucha often rocks and sometimes it just doesn't

So that first batch didn't taste too hot. It was really, really sweet and I am certain one week wasn't enough to get it kickin'.  I ended up dumping most of it and got discouraged. But I had so many scobys, I wasn't going to give it up entirely, so I brewed two batches with green tea, plopped the scobys in and left them to sit for two weeks.  That was not intentional, but time got away from me.

I finally had the time to bottle up what was there.  The big Anchor jar tasted like vinegar. YUCK! the Skinny jar was FANTASTIC. It was sealed by the scoby and developed a ton of fizz.  If I could have, I would have bottled it and sold it, but I only had enough to drink and share with a friend who was suffers withdrawals since the Kombucha ban.

My daughter's fifth grade class sells pickles every year for a fundraiser, so today I snagged three jars and have tea cooling and ready to mix.  I got tow more batches going, but screwed up the tea amount. I think I only put half the amount of green tea, so who knows what will happen with those.

My new three batches are two black tea and one green.  I have to disturb the currently brewing batch to get at the scobys, cause I stacked them. Don't think that is best, but operating on low fumes, I could not figure out where to store the extras so they wouldn't dry out.

So, I'm going to dig out three scobys and hope for the best.  I think the key last time was a long sit, but maybe not two weeks.  I'll try 10 days and see how she goes.

Stay tuned and thanks for the friends I've gathered doing this. I haven't been actively promoting this blog, but I like tracking my progress and anyone along for the ride works for me.

Happy brewing!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I've got bubbles! Kombucha Brewing at a Good Clip.

I've got tons of bubbles on my green tea batch. So thrilled, because for me, it is all about the fizz!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two in Brew: Kombucha Tea Express

I know have a black tea batch brewing along side my green tea. I swear the green tea already looks like it has carbonation, but I could be mistaken. I think the Austin heat is definitely kicking things in gear.

Saved a SCOBY for a friend who wants to try brewing. Gotta say I love doing it, but when the kombucha was readily available in the stores, it sure seemed easier. I looked at store bought kombucha as a special treat once I stopped brewing. There was nothing I could do to justify $3-$4 a bottle regularly, especially knowing how easy it is to do yourself. I think knowing that you grow a new culture every time you brew also made the dough tough to shell out per bottle.

Buddha's Brew is the closest brew to my own. GT's is much lighter tasting and more fizzy generally. Until I had Buddha's Brew, I thought maybe I was missing something in my own. Nothing like commercial validation to bolster my feeling of success. :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kombucha Tea Recipe

Here's the recipe I follow for Kombucha Tea:

1. Bring 3 Quarts of distilled water to a boil.

2. Add 1 cup of sugar (I use organic raw sugar) and 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.

5. Float your SCOBY; shiny side up. Don't sweat it if it sinks, it will work fine.

6. Add about 10-15 percent old batch tea on top of the SCOBY if you have it or buy a bottle of KT. I usually use 10-12 oz.

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

8. Don't mess with it! A thin film will form on top and grow into a new baby SCOBY. Hopefully, some carbonation will form and bubbles will rise underneath the SCOBY. I have pictures of this in older posts.

Once brewed to taste...

1. Wash hands and then rinse with vinegar. Carefully remove the SCOBYs and put them in a glass container. Don't use metal utensils. Pour off about 10 -20 oz for starter tea for the next batch or two of tea (you have two SCOBYs now).

2. I bottle my kombucha in mason jars now days. I often add ginger, but I will add only shredded ginger juice and not the actual pieces like I used too. You can also add a little bit of fresh squeezed blueberry  or other fruit juice to the individual bottles for extra flavor and fizz.

3. I usually let them sit a week or so for a second fermentation and then stash them in the fridge. Enjoy!

There are links to lot's of other recipes on the side bar as well, but this is as basic as you get.

Got Three SCOBYs and I'm brewing.

Picked up three SCOBYs and I have one soaking in sweet green tea now. I was only anticipating gettig one, but he gave me three cause I'm really nice!

Can't wait to drink it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm ready to brew again

All the hype and empty store shelves have got me in the mood to brew again.  In fact, I found someone on craigslist that has some scobys and I'm gonna buy one. I prefer the trade method, but why not buy one when I like the stuff and they multiply. Seems like a good enough investment.

I am brewing the tea tonight so it is ready tomorrow; hope he can meet me. I may ask if he'll do two scobys for the price of one with some eggs.  My third hen Lulu is finally laying eggs after a month of living here. Care about that, you can click through to my Hen Fresh Eggs blog.

Lord, now for the biggest issue. Space and bottles. I pretty much recycled all my old bottles as I got sick to death of storing them.  I think I may buy mason jars with regular lids, similar to how Buddha's Brew started bottling, before they went all GT's on there packaging.

It is funny. I thought my tea was good, but I thought something must be wrong with it because it didnt' taste much like GT's. Then I bought Buddha's Brew and was blown away by how much it tasted like mine.  So, confidence restored, because my ginger brew rocked.

The summer heat should push processing, so anxious to get started.  We'll see if the dude comes through tomorrow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kombucha Pulled From Shelves. Time to brew your own!

Kombucha was pulled from the shelves of H-E-B and Whole Foods until better controls on the alcohol can be gauged. According to stores pulled the tea "because of elevated alcohol levels that weren't reflected on the labels. The company is awaiting their suppliers to update their labels. Under government regulations, products containing alcohol levels of 0.5% or more need to carry warning labels."

My mothers all died last summer when I took a hiatus and the heat took over.  Hottest summer on record, so I haven't brewed in some time.

I was thinking about starting a new batch from some bottles I have stashed, but it would be sure nice to find a mother!

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.