Kombucha Brewing and Care Guide
The Kombucha is a tough rubber-like skin, which is actually a complex symbiosis of yeasts and bacteria. The skin, or Scoby (scO-bee, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), is grown on an infusion of tea and sugar, allowing the yeast and bacteria complex to proliferate, producing an acidic and sour “cider-like” beverage usually referred to as Kombucha tea. Often called the “Manchurian Mushroom,” it is not a mushroom at all.
Some alcohol is produced by the yeast during fermentation, but is ultimately changed to acetic acid by the bacteria . The finished Kombucha Tea will contain roughly 0.5 to 1% alcohol as well as lesser amounts of lactic acid, tartaric acid, malic acid, malonic acid, citric acid, and oxalic acid. A small amount of caffeine may also be present if the brew originated with black or green teas.
Many wild claims have been made about the health benefits of drinking Kombucha tea. There is little evidence to support much of it, in fact most contemporary studies have proven the finished tea to contain no antibiotic activity beyond the natural mild detoxifying effects of the acetic acid and lactic acid. As a pleasant to drink, easy to brew healthy beverage, Kombucha tea may contain some health benefits, though not nearly the cure-all panacea often claimed. Some studies suggest regular drinkers experienced a reduction in the number of colds. It is also reported to be a good protectant against the daily assault on our bodies from various environmental pollution.
Will it make you strong like an ox, with eyes of the eagle, and the youthful vigor of a spring chicken? Who knows... brew some tea and enjoy!
Directions below are for brewing one gallon tea batches, modify recipe according:
Heat to boiling enough water to fill your gallon glass jar to 80% capacity
Cut heat and pour hot water into jar, add 1 cup table sugar, and 4 tea bags (standard black or other caffeinated teas). Steep tea to strength, the longer the better.
Remove tea bags and allow solution to cool, covered.
Once solution reaches room temperature, pour 10% Kombucha tea from the previous batch (first time brewers will have enough tea supplied with their starter culture). Wash your hands before directly handling the scooby and work in a clean environment.
Place the Kombucha scoby, in the solution. Sometimes it floats, sometimes it sinks.
Cover the mouth of the container with muslin or other tight weave cotton material (a clean t-shirt works great) and secure with a rubber band, or banded canning lid. and secure with a rubber band, or banded canning lid.
Keep in a consistently warm location (64F-78F) out of direct sunlight and leave undisturbed.
Fermentation length depends on desired strength and sourness. A minimum of 8 days, up to four weeks. A new scoby will begin to form on the surface of your fermenting tea.
Strain finished tea into jars or bottles. Air-tight lids may result in minor carbonation. Store finished tea under refrigeration. Retain 10% of finished tea to start your next batch.
Continue using original culture, or new babies to brew tea as long as they maintain their original healthy appearance. Any green, black, yellow or otherwise funky moldy colors may indicate contamination. Discard any culture in which you suspect infection or contamination and DO NOT drink the resulting tea. A scoby that loses the rubbery texture or easily falls apart should also be discarded.
With each brewing you may produce new “baby” cultures or skins on the surface of your tea. These baby scobies can be utilized to expand your brewing or given to friends as gifts!
Kombucha has enjoyed a recent resurgence in the US, but has been used as a traditional herbal remedy for thousands of years. The first reported use of Kombucha dates to the Tsim-Dynasty of the Chinese empire in 221 B.C.
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