It is the latest craze! Or so it seems. Who doesn’t want to be on trend and be drinking the next best thing next to Dom Perignon in the middle of the afternoon? Not sure how I came to drink the stuff. Maybe because the bubbles are as delicate and as prickly of those in champagne and it is easier to get away with drinking kombucha than Dom Perignon in the middle of the a workday afternoon after all. Most of the time anyway. Besides, I want to be on board and up with the latest trend in such concernings. If you do too, look no further. I have a sneaky suspicion however, this article and my curiosities are debuting a little late though. I am still drinking black lemonade. Which came first, dunno. Kombucha is a smelly, sparkly, sweet, tart, fruity, sharp yet smooth fermented tea packed with vitamins and extremely beneficial for digestion as it is a probiotic.
First things first. A “scoby” is necessary to make kombucha. Scoby stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”.
At first I could not get an expert for questioning (I sort of tried it was the holidays). I also decide on google as good a resource as any and at the moment (lets be real, always) there seems to be ample “experts” from which to choose. My first scoby I order from Goop. Christmas. 2016. (Yes, it has taken this long) I start my first batch with rose hip tea. Yes, I read the instructions for making kombucha from the featured scoby coming from Mortier Pilon. I want to see if reducing caffeine and sugar make a difference. Seems so. Scoby likes more caffeine and sugar for sure. I happen to be talking to my bestie about my recent “sort of failed attempt” and articles I had been reading on kombucha. One of which is an NPR article discussing the benefits of this 4$ funky tea. She and her boyfriend of thirteen years down the stuff sometimes at least twice to three times a day! They had started to making it. Getting to costly. Those four dollars a pop (sometimes more) adds up. So, as far as I am concerned, she is an expert now. Geminis are or at least make you think they are experts. See article from NYLON magazine A Tribute to Gemini, The Low-Key Psychopath of the Zodiac for more understanding of the reference, although all not applicable, obviously. Anyway and besides, we need a play date so time to crank up the Volvo and off to Pasadena I go to learn how to make kombucha from the non-expert expert my best friend, Jessica. Before I meet the actual experts anyway. Six months later, but yes, I have some lined up.
Jessica’s Kombucha in Pasadena, CA
According to Jessica..
Kombucha needs a scoby in a home, the home is previously made kombucha liquid batch equalling about one cup, that will live in a glass vessel cleaned with white vinegar and water which has air dried. Cooled room temperature tea sugar mixture is added to about one to two inches from the top of the jar. Water is then added. A cotton cloth covers the opening with a lid or rubber band. Ideal kombucha temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can ferment once or twice and for as short as five days or as long as two weeks. This all depends on what you and your taste buds like. And like wine, smelling is most helpful during the making process. Scooby eats the caffeine and sugar and reproduces. Semi dark area and air is needed for scoby to breathe and thrive.
The Recipe: (from Jessica’s)
8 black tea bags
1 cup of sugar
Boil water then add sugar once boiling. steep tea bags and let cool. It must be room temp otherwise you’ll kill the scoby.
Once cools, gently pour scoby and home into a gallon jar. And then top with water.
Cover with cotton cloth and then patience. Check in seven days. If it smells it still tea. I’ll know because it smells like kombuchcha. Then, once ready, part two.
To add fruit, cut into pcs that easy to put in and out of bottles that you will use..
Then leave for longer the fizzier you like it but not too long, because the bottles will break.. they cap should be turned on occasion to prevent breakage and release some air…
Refrigerate to stop fermentation
Jessica’s Kombucha and work space
My first batch from Christmas still produced a scoby but the batch was a fail…
So, after Jessica’s I start again..
Time passes and my mango kombucha second fermentation is ready..
I repeat the process and soon realize that I need more jars..
starting with tea boiling..
my scoby is reproducing rapidly..I purchase another jar from Amazon and start again..
I start a second fermentation with cherries and wait and while I wait, I sign up for a demonstration class and kombucha tasting..
Time to go to Downtown Los Angeles..
KOMBUCHA HUNTERS Adventure in Kombuch Home-Brewing: A Beginners’ Brew-Along and Tasting demonstration and tasting class is set to take place in the Arts District at Faithful Artisans.
Today, I “go green” and get on the M28 bus to Downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Metro is really great and I am not sure why more Angelenos don’t use it. I walked to work and took the bus even when I had my car. Adjustments must be made for certain outings, but public transept isn’t terrible.
First part of my bus ride on the M28
I get off the M28 in the Diamonds District of DTLA and hop on the crosstown 40. Somewhere between the diamonds and the arts is Skid Row. Tanned skin human skeletons, resembling humans, are hunched over resting, waiting for the next fix or their next meal. I don’t know. Tents and and sleeping bags line the streets and alleys. Graffiti, which I happen to think is very cool, is everywhere. I even spot Colette’s Wings. The thought of something angelic here is comforting. There is perspective. Real. Very sad. I am soon paying attention to my phone’s lit screen. I miss my stop. Texting my friend, making plans about attending a sound bath later. I walk back quite a way. The blocks in DTLA often seem shorter but they are long city blocks. Almost Vegas style. Just when you think you are almost to the destination, nope. A white bearded gent pulls along side me and asks if I need a ride. Yeah, no. Thank you sir. Keep driving your van. I round the corner at the 76 Station and immediately know where I am. Ruth Caffe is at the end of the block. Music is playing. The streets bustling. I enter the white brick building. Class time!!
Kombucha according to the experts: (copied from my notes and take home material)
The first three things you need to brew kombucha are as follows:
- positivity- a positive state of mind as scoby can feel as its alive. Some kombucha makers even play music for their brewing batches.
- preparation- all tools need to be ready
- patience-this also means acceptance that the process takes time. The warmer the temperature in your brewing area the shorter the brew time. The cooler the longer. Five days to two weeks. Kombucha loves warm. 75-76 degrees F ideal.
Need these to make a batch:
Spring water, sugar (organic cane as scoby likes this the best), caffeinated tea (you can still brew with herbal tea but the outcome will not be the same), steel pot, wooden stirrer, tightly woven cotton cloth, rubber bands, glass bottles of choice with tight seals (optional ph and temperature gage), I scoby, starter liquid (where scoby should already be living) 10 tea bags or five tablespoons of caffeinated loose leaf tea (tea ball is helpful here)
please read carefully <for one gallon of kombucha>
Boil 2 cups of purified spring water in a large pot.
Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup of organic cane sugar until it dissolves. Drop tea bags (or 5 tablespoons of loose-leaf tea) of choice. Let steep for 5-10 minutes and remove. Add 14 cups of purified, room temperature water. Cover the tea, and let cool fully to room temperature. Do not leave tea for more than 2 hours, as it can start to mold after that.
Once the tea has fully cooled you can start with you first batch. Clean your glass container thoroughly. Pour in your tea. Pour half of the started liquid that came with your scoby. Stir in the scobygently. Pour in the remaining starter liquid. Cover the container with a cotton cloth (you can also use a paper towel) Make sure there are no holes. Secure with a rubber band. Place the container in to a dark area. Make sure the area stays around 77 degrees F. Leave to brew 5-14 days, depending on how tart you like it.
after 5-154 days, yo are ready to bottle and flavor. Produce your clean bottles. Add flavors of your choice (juices, powder, fresh fruit, herbs, etc) or none at all.
Pour kombucha into bottles. seal the bottles tightly. Set aside at the room temp for another 3-7 days to carbonate further. You can burp the bottle(s) on day 2 by slightly opening and closing the cap or flip the top. After 3-7 days, place the bottles in the fridge to stop the fermentation.
Your Kombucha is now fully ready to share.
Note: clean each brewing jar after 10-12 brews
***Fun fact:: have too many scoby? Cut them up and make sweet and sour candies. Move over sour patch kids..;)
After kombucha demo and tasting back on the bus I go.. Kombucha in bag..
After kombucha class, I start to experiment more. I use chai tea and bring out some sweet syrups I got from some liquor sales person once upon a time. They may make great flavoring for second fermentation. I usually don’t go through the second process though.
To be continued…
Komucha on tap…
Gratitude Beverly Hills an this place has a great vibe and delicious Kombucha on tap
Alo Yoga Beverly Hills
Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose
Make Out in Culver City
Gelson’s Studio City
And since this post…more on the Scoby Hotel Summer 2018