Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Kombucha

11/10/2013  Batch 1
I bought 3 bottles of Kombucha from Price Chopper. I took 2 of them and drank half and put the rest into 2 Ball jars. I heated up 2 Ball jars of water, with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 bag of Throat Coat tea, and 2 bags of green tea. I sliced a few pieces of fresh giner and let is steep with the tea bags in the boiled water until completely cooled down.

When the boiled tea and ginger mix cooled down, I filled up the Ball jars with the tea mix. I placed pieces of kitchen paper towels over the top of each jar with a rubber band. Then I put the jars in the kitchen cupboard on the moving shelves with the spices.

After 1 week, this batch had a very thin SCOBY. It was soft and a little bubble filled, and very speckled white, gray, and brown. I smelled it and it smelled good, slightly like beer/wine combination. I knew that looking ugly was OK. I tasted it and it was good. It tasted a little sweet, but also with good tangyness. Interestingly, the liquid, when poured in a glass, was very pink, not orange, as in tea. I drank a glass. It was really good. I saved the second jar to start the 5 gallon jar with.

11/11/2013  Batch 2

Made a batch from GT Kombucha. I boiled 3 green tea bags with half cup of sugar, and 2 mason jars of water. I also boiled fresh fennel with the tea, and took it out after brewed. I put these jars in the cupboard to the right of the stove, high back on the shelf. Covered it with cheese cloth. I marked these jars as GT and date.

After 1 week, this batch had a very thin SCOBY. It was soft and bubble filled, and very brown. I smelled it and it smelled good, slightly like beer/wine combination. It looked very yeasty. I knew brown was OK color. I tasted it and it was good. It tasted very sweet. Good, but I wanted something better. This one, I suspected, needed to ferment longer.

I bought two large (5 gallon) glass jars at Waldemar for $9.99 each.
I wanted to brew one jar from batch one, and another from batch two. I thought if I do two and mess up one, at least I still have one good batch. Now that I had tasted both batches, I knew that the one I had the giner in was the one I liked better.

I have no patience. So I knew I would need to figure out a tea brewing, and into the big jars process in a fast way. My solution was simple.

I filled the two 5 gallon jugs with warm water the night before. I did not use filtered or distilled water. I knew that if the water sat overnight, the chlorine in the water would evaporate. That's what I used to do when I had a fish aquarium. As long as you let the water sit for a day or so, you could use the water in the fish tank. If you didn't  do that, you often killed the fish. Well, the kombucha culture is alive, and chlorine could kill it to.

This moring, the two 5 gallon jugs were half full and ready for the tea and SCOBYs. How to make this a quick process. I used loose Lipton tea. Ingredients: Orange Pekoe and Pekoe Cut Black tea.
I got two large pans and placed them on the counter. I filled one with water and put in on the stove. When it came to a boil I put in 5 tablespoons of loose tea. I let it boil for awhile, then turned off the burner and let it steep.

After fifteen minutes I strained out the tea leaves by pouring the tea through a sieve into the second emply pot. Worked very well. Then I added two cups of sugar. My plan is that I am making a double concentrated dose because I will be pouring this into the water in the big jar. I stirred the sugared tea periodically.

The pouring from one pan to another cooled the tea down some, but it was still hot. Now I used a measuring cup and dipped out the sweet tea into one of the big jars. The water in the jars was already room temperature, so adding two cups of hot water tea at a time cooled the tea quickly. Now I just need to let this mixture cool to room temperature.

I now re-used the tea from the previous batch, added two more teaspoons of tea, and boiled up another pot. Added the sugar, filtered out the tea leaves, and poured the second pan of tea into the second big jar.

I waited for the first jar to be only slightly warm to the touch. I put in two small SCOBYs from the ginger batch 1. I am not sure what the temperature is when to your hand an object feels slightly warm. Hopefully it was not about 90 degrees, which I understand will kill the SCOBY and living organisms.

The second jar I let it cool more to room temperature, then added the two little SCOBYs from the two mason jars. I placed the glass lids over both jars and placed small dish towels over the jars to keep out the sunlight.

What do I expect? Hopefully I get two great batches of Kombucha. Hopefully one will come out looking a little pink, like the starter with ginger, and one will come out with more of an orange tea color. I also hope that my putting my SCOBYs in while the jars felt a little warm to my touch, was not too hot. A week's worth of patience will be out the window if these batches fail. Somehow, I don't think they will.

I drank one full glass of the pink colored kombucha. It was really perfect, not very sweet, a light flavor but with a tang. With the leftover kombucha, I filled 3 small GT bottles leaving a couple inches of air from the top. I added some apple juice to each and put the lids on. I may loosen the caps once a day to releive pressure. I don't want any of the bottled concoction to explode, breaking the bottles and making a mess.