Today I decided to start to figure out how to make kombucha….
Kombucha is a drink that Chuck and I first tried about fifteen years ago when we read an article about it in Imbibe magazine. The magazine had shown up as a gift in a case of wine we had ordered from a supplier in California long before we decided to relocate. We had never heard of kombucha which of course meant we had to seek it out and give it a try. We found kombucha at our neighborhood Whole Foods in Illinois and were instantly hooked.
In case kombucha is new to you, it is essentially a naturally carbonated, fermented, probiotic black sweet tea. There are some records to indicate that it came on the scene in the 200s BCE in the Chinese Qin dynasty. It is believed to have taken over 2000 years before it found its way to the Americas where it started to become popular in the 1970s as a health drink.
From what I can tell, the making of kombucha is fairly simple. All you need is water, sugar, black tea and a scoby. What is a scoby you might ask? It is a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, of course. 😉
It is a living organism that many describe as looking like a gel pancake. Or, if you have ever made vinegar, it looks similar to a vinegar mother. I think it looks like a silicone breast implant myself, albeit a flat one!
It is easy enough to pick up the tea and the sugar from any grocer but the scoby requires a bit more effort. You can get one from someone else who makes kombucha much as you would get sourdough starter from a fellow baker. Or you can order a scoby on the internet for anywhere from $3.99 to $23.99 depending on whether you shop at eBay or Williams-Sonoma. Or you can make your own if you are willing to invest about a month in waiting time.
I decided to take the latter approach as it seemed the most educational and interesting path so this morning I set about creating the conditions to grow a scoby. It wasn’t hard. I boiled 14 cups of water and then dissolved in a cup of sugar. I removed the water from the heat and added eight black tea bags and let them steep until the mixture cooled to room temperature. At that point, I stirred in the contents of one bottle of G.T.’s Original Kombucha (our favorite brand) and put it all in a one gallon glass jar with cheesecloth on top to sit at room temperature for about a month and evolve.
Best I can tell, the natural cultures in the store-bought kombucha will start to grow in my sweet black tea mixture. Once these cultures have grown to be about 1/4″ thick, it will be ready to use to start making our own kombucha from scratch.
I look forward to providing a scoby report in about a month at which time I expect to be able to start our first batch of kombucha. Once I have the mature scoby, the making of the kombucha is only a 7 to 14 day process so it will pick up speed. And then I can start introducing new flavors. Can’t wait!
In the meantime, G.T.s will just have to keep showing up in my weekly shopping cart, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 😉