Blog: My Raw Life
by Avocadess

My Homemade Kombucha

My sort of long and convoluted description of how I made my own "mad scientist" version of Kombucha -- and love it...!

Date:   2/3/2010 9:04:15 PM   ( 13 y ) ... viewed 3898 times

I don't think I wrote about this, did I? Okay, I just double-checked and it does not appear that I have!

It took me a while to decide to make kombucha. I just did not want to use white sugar or black tea. Then in time I heard about people using green tea and decided I would make it, but with my own mother -- so that my mother or SCOBY (which stands for Symbiotic Colony of Beneficial Yeast) would start out with organic and what to me seems more wholesome ingredients.

I took a big chance, though. I had heard that you should NOT use different flavored teas because you might get the wrong kinds of bacteria in the Kombucha. However I only had on hand my organic green jasmine tea and I just love the jasmine flavor, so I decided to risk it. (Later I ran across an ad on YouTube for a Tibetan-style Kombucha called June that uses green jasmine tea -- along with other ingredients, including honey -- and then I felt vindicated, haha).

Anyhow, this is what I did:

I made a strong brew of green jasmine tea, never boiling the water because I think maybe the water is happier if it doesn't get TOO hot -- and then added Sucanat sugar -- which is a brand name for a sugar that is made in the most natural way I could find. It is less refined than Turbinado or brown sugars, which are first refined to white and then have the molasses added back in. With Sucanat the molasses is never taken out. Maybe it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference, but anyhow, that's what I used. I also added about 4 oz. of organic raw kombucha I got at the store (so much for my idea of doing it without any starter at all, haha -- but still, I wanted to make my own mother!) Later I realized it would have been better to pour in the whole bottle for making the mother. No doubt it would have hurried it along!

I enjoyed one particular series of videos on YouTube on how to make Kombucha where the lady added 2 1/2 cups of sugar to one gallon of tea, and when she was finished making the Kombucha she felt it was not sweet enough for her kids, giving me the impression that I probably should put at least 2 1/2 cups of sugar. And as it turns out SINCE I WAS MAKING THE MOTHER, it was indeed a good idea to have a lot of sugar. In fact, I think I added another half a cup after about two weeks while the mother was still being made.

Basically the idea is that you want to put the sweetened tea into a gallon-sized glass jar with a wide mouth -- leaving some air space on top (a couple inches or whatever), and then placing a piece of clean cotton cloth over the mouth of the jar, which is held on by a rubber band. The idea is to let the ferment breathe without letting in any non-beneficial bacteria. Preferably you want the tea to be warm -- to help promote bacteria growth -- but not hot -- which would kill the beneficial bacteria. Ideally you keep it in a dark cabinet where it can be left alone and stay 70-80 degrees. However, when I made mine we had unusually cold weather and I don't heat my apartment all that much, so I think this is one reason I had to wait so long for my "mother" or SCOBY to develop. It took about a month!!

This part -- making the mother -- took a LOT of patience!!! And one thing about making Kombucha with green jasmine tea and Sucanat, it is a very dark and opaque tea. Nothing was looking as I expected, but I just waited and waited. I was heartened when after a few weeks I tasted the tea that was making the mother (just to see if it was still sweet) and found it was vinegary -- and when I added some more sugar it bubbled and effervesced!

The hardest part was that after the 3 to 4-week period waiting for the mother to appear I had to POUR OUT the initial tea, which was so vinegary and which may have been okay to drink but as far as I knew it might not be, so I threw it out! I just kept the mother and about an inch or so of the "tea" as starter for my "first" batch.

So then I made a gallon of green jasmine tea again and added just a little over 2 cups of Sucanat -- and also added a couple teaspoons of a combination of chlorella, spirulina and bluegreen algae AND opened up some capsules of Host Defense My Community -- Paul Stamets' mix of 17 different medicinal type mushroom/fungi.

Now it is working great, and it only takes 5 to 7 days to make my Kombucha, which tastes great to me! (I think my Kombucha is SO active that it turns into Kombucha faster than the average Kombucha that takes 7 to 10 days.) I have no idea what others would have to say about my adding the fungi to the kombucha, but I'm loving it, especially after learning about how beneficial those mushrooms are to us -- and I knew that the algaes would help make my Kombucha more effervescent because of my experience and knowledge of how these algaes help promote and magnify probiotic mixtures from back in the days when I was really into the Cell Tech super bluegreen algae (a company which no longer exists).

I am very in love with my Kombucha, and now I am making 2 gallons at one time -- ripening several days apart. If it is not good for you to drink too much Kombucha I guess you'll hear about it here because I'm certainly drinking a lot of it...! By the way: once I'm out of Sucanat I'm going to switch to maple syrup for a few batches and see how that goes too! (NOTE: Both Sucanat and maple syrup are NOT raw.)

Thanks for reading, and here's wishing you the Best Day EVER...!

Michele / Avocadess

P.S. I guess I should try to describe what a "mother" or SCOBY looks like. It floats on the top of the brew and as it is being formed you can't really tell what is going to happen. MY mother looks very sort of bumpy and sort of dark. I knew to check for any little round spots (which would indicate mold) and sniff for foul smells. Mothers can be quite thin, and indeed my first mother started out quite thin. Now that it has made another gallon or so it is thicker and has spawned "babies" which can be used as mothers in other gallon jars. Some people actually EAT their extra mothers and I did indeed eat a couple babies. (OMG, that sounds so carnivorous in a monstrous way, doesn't it?!) The mother/SCOBY is actually fairly light-colored however (except for the algaes and stuff that hang out on mine) and tends to take up the width of the jar -- which is one reason you want to use a WIDE-mouthed jar. In time I think the original mother may grow to be a half an inch thick or more! Each new batch of kombucha will only need an inch or two of the previous Kombucha tea and the mother plus the new warm sweetened tea.

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