Adventures in Kombucha Homebrew and How to Make Your Own
|The tangy, fizzy finished product, and some of my favorite teas.|
The most recent tiny adventure? Making my own Kombucha. My brother gifted me a homebrew kit from Kombucha Brooklyn for the holidays, and though I knew next to nothing about it, the idea of a foray into something new was impossible to ignore.
What is Kombucha?In the most basic sense, Kombucha is fermented tea. It's probiotic, like yogurt, and is produced by taking plain tea, adding sugar, dropping in a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), and letting it sit for up to two weeks. Learn more.
There's little evidence to support Kombucha's health benefits, which theoretically include detoxification, added energy, immune system support, digestive system support, and disease prevention, among other things. As a general skeptic of most products that are touted as "healthy" or "detoxifying," the potential health benefits are less important than the enjoyment I get out of consuming whatever the product is.
|Ingredients like good tea and plain old sugar are key to a good brew.|
What You Need to Make Kombucha at Home, and How to Do ItAll you need is tea, sugar, water, a culture, and something to put it all in while the 'buch ferments. Pretty simple, right? My homebrew kit gift came with a 1/2-gallon glass brew jar, a 100% organic cotton cover for the jar, a temperature strip, tea, organic evaporated cane sugar, and a claim code so I could order the SCOBY culture and liquid starter.
When the SCOBY culture came in the mail, I was, to be completely frank, alarmed. The squishy, slippery disc-shaped jellyfish-like culture definitely did not look like something I wanted anywhere near my foods or beverages. But these types of cultures are used to make everything from ginger beer to kefir and sourdough bread, and after the shock wore off, I figured I'd give the SCOBY a chance.
|The SCOBY, pictured right, isn't particularly photogetnic, is it?|
What I've Learned From Brewing My Own Kombucha
After five successful half-gallon brews, I'm certainly not an expert, but I've learned a few things that might be helpful to other beginner homebrewers.
Get a starter kit. KBBK's starter kit was ideal for me because it came with everything I needed to start my first brew, and incredibly detailed instructions to help me avoid screwing it up. You can always experiment more after a few successful batches.
Not all types of tea are created equal. I've found gunpowder green tea and plain black tea make the best brews. You can also use white and oolong tea, but it's best to avoid flavored teas.
|Filtering my homebrew in a nut milk bag helps make it nice and smooth.|
Consider filtering the brew after it's done. Though you can drink the Kombucha as soon as it's done fermenting, and after you take the SCOBY out, there's still...stuff in it. I use a nut milk bag to capture some of the tendrils that fall off the SCOBY during fermentation, among other leftovers. The brew is smoother and more palatable.
|So fizzy and so yummy!|
Alright readers, Kombucha: love it or hate it? Did you learn anything new from this piece? Fellow homebrewers, any other tips? What questions do you have about Kombucha or brewing it?