Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My First Batch of Kombucha

Last week I wrote about Kombucha, giving the basics: what it is, how it's made, and other benefits, proven or not.

Pomegranate Flavored Kombucha
No matter how one looks at it, it is really tasty, to my palate, and so far it appears it is acceptable to my husband's palate also. Yesterday was 7 days fermenting. The pH registered at about between 2.5 and 3.0, so that was right on target. I opted to do a secondary ferment using fruit juice, so I poured off two bottles of plain kombucha, to taste as a baseline and then added 2 ounces of pomegranate juice to each of the jars, before filling with Kombucha. This will re-ferment on the counter for another 2 or 3 days, or until it tastes right and is fizzy. 

I was so excited last week, the day my SCOBY was to arrive - that I completely forgot to take any photos of it when it came! The temperature of SCOBY and the tea must be the same, so it took some time and monitoring to have them become equal. And then I slipped the SCOBY into the tea - set it on top of the fridge, covered and thought - DRAT! forgot to photograph. 

I had planned to get photos yesterday when draining and making the new batch of tea - and again I forgot. That said, the kombucha was delicious! I am hoping the pomegranate juice (from a jar) will also be as good as I anticipate.

Plain Kombucha in front and Pomegranate Kombucha behind
The one thing I had wondered about receiving a SCOBY in the mail - is there any waiting period? As in, maybe it could be in shock from travel and need a grace period. Do you think I could find an answer to this? I looked online and just could not find an answer. So, yesterday when I uncovered the kombucha, preparatory to draining it into containers, there was no new SCOBY on top! I certainly wondered at that, because everywhere I read it said that with each batch a new SCOBY will form. Obviously I was not entering the right question.

As I saw no new baby SCOBY, I looked online for that concept and found that yes, if the SCOBY is weak, it may not produce a new SCOBY the first and even possibly a second time, but eventually, given its preferred diet of sweet tea, it will recover. I hope next week to see a new baby SCOBY on top. Meanwhile, there was nothing wrong with the one I got, because the tea was fermented nicely and the flavor was very similar to the store bought bottle (only better!). 

I used one gallon of boiled water, 2 tablespoons of black tea, steeped for 10 minutes, then sweetened with 1 cup of cane sugar. Actually, since it is taking such a very long time to cool the tea, this time I steeped the 2 tablespoons of tea in one quart of boiling water, then sweetened it and added in the other 3 quarts of water. This way it only took 5 hours for the tea to cool to the 77 degrees of the SCOBY! 

I am using the continuous brew method. I bought a large 1 1/2 gallon glass jar with spigot. I drained off the tea, leaving about 2 cups in the bottom of the jar, and added the new batch of tea on top. 

It remains to see the flavor of the pomegranate kombucha, but it surely looks pretty. The plain is delicious. This is fast becoming a love affair!

July 30, 2015: Three days later . . . 

Just Poured, left                  |          after 20 seconds, right
Today makes three days since I decanted my first Kombucha. The plain is delicious, and I love it. But - once the secondary ferment takes place, with the addition of juice or any other flavoring agent, it becomes far more fizzy and active. In the case of the addition of 2-ounces of pomegranate juice to the jar, the flavor is amazing! The fizz-factor is really up there. In general, I do not drink anything fizzy. Even Champagne takes some work to get through. About the only sparkling wine I have used repeatedly over the years is the Italian sparkling red from Banfi called (these days) Rosa Regale. In past, this was called Brachetto d'Acqui. It is a lovely flavored sparkling wine, reminiscent of raspberries and rose petals. While I will not say the flavor of my Pomegranate Kombucha is alike, this is the only thing that even comes close in my taste memory. The bubbles respond the same way, filling the glass immediately and then coming down, slowly. After pouring, it took over 20 seconds for the bubbly fizz to come down from near the top of the champagne flute to about 1/4-inch thick. The flavor is mosst lovely. Once getting past the bubbles, I do love this stuff!