Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Brewing Kombucha

I 1st encountered kombucha during 1 of our few degustation meals. At 1 of the restaurants, we were served kombucha jelly & at another, kombucha as a palate cleanser. I was curious & went to read more about it online. Supposedly, the 1st recorded use was in 221 BC in China. It was in 414 AD when a Dr Kombu from Korea brought it to Japan to treat the emperor that kombucha began to spread over the world. It had multiple benefits, mostly to do with improvement to the GI system. As a healthy GI system is the forefront to health, from absorbing nutrients to eliminating wastes, it indirectly brings forth other health benefits. I then had the idea to make it at home myself so I can have an endless supply all year round.

Towards the end of the year, I ordered a kombucha starter kit online which consists of a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria & Yeast), a starter culture (which is the kombucha itself) & instructions on how to brew kombucha. As it was the holiday period, the starter kit wasn't shipped out till the 4th. I finally received it on the 15th & I started on it that very night. While you can use normal tea, the author strongly recommends organic tea. I already had a box of organic green tea in my pantry so I used just that. Otherwise, organic black, red or white tea is fine. Herbal teas are not to be used as it can kill the beneficial bacteria.

The kombucha was quiet, with no signs of a new SCOBY formation even into day 4. I got worried as it was stated online that I should start to see some whitish growth on the surface of the kombucha on day 2. I thought maybe the bacteria & yeast in the SCOBY & kombucha starter had been killed during the 10 days it took to reach me by slow mail. Suddenly on day 5, I saw this white layer on the surface when I got home. From there on, it was rapid growth.

The kombucha is ready for bottling between 8 to 12 days, depending on the room temperature. I read online that it could take up to 21 days in winter. Since we're in summer, I started tasting it from day 9. When I got to day 12, I felt that the taste is to my liking & hence harvested it. After bottling, it'll be best to refrigerate the kombucha for a further 5 days for it to mature. I seriously don't think it'll last 5 days. As I have to keep 10% of the kombucha as starter culture for my next batch, I ended up with less than 1L for consumption. 

I now have 1 big & 1 small SCOBY. So I've peeled them apart & put the bigger SCOBY with 500 mls of kombucha for a 5L brew. The smaller SCOBY had 2 distinct layers (due to new growth) so I peeled them apart & placed them with 200 mls of kombucha for a 2L brew. That way, my next batch will yield 7L. My plan is to use the 2 large new SCOBY for the 3rd batch to be 10L. Any remaining SCOBY will be given away if anybody wants it. If not, I'll eat it. LOL. Hmm... or otherwise, the author sold hers for $30. Maybe I can sell mine for half the price but double the size.

Ingredients: SCOBY, 150 mls of kombucha, organic raw sugar, organic green tea.
Day 1: 2L of sweet green tea added to the SCOBY & kombucha starter culture.
Day 5: Beginning of a new SCOBY.
Day 7: SCOBY thickens.
Day 9: The SCOBY had formed a seal on top of the liquid, trapping air bubbles produced from the fermenting tea just underneath the surface.
Day 12: Harvesting of the kombucha. The smaller, darker disk is the original SCOBY that was sent to me. The bigger, lighter disk is the new SCOBY. I think the colour difference might be becoz she used black tea while I used green tea. 
Bottling of the kombucha. I reused the wine bottles I have so I don't have to spend money buying glass bottles. I immediately had a shot glass of kombucha. My reward for my work.
SCOBY & kombucha starter spilt into 2 jars for the next batch of brew.

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