Grow, Baby, Grow!

It's kombucha time at our house again.

So here is a little bit about kombucha if you haven't heard of or seen the stuff before.  This is an empty bottle of GT's Organic Raw Kombucha in original flavor. (i.e. unflavored)  You can actually use the store bought to start your own culture, but if you can get an already grown scoby, I recommend that for beginners.

Scoby?  What's that?
Glad you asked.  I originally learned that it stood for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, but have also seen it as symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  You will also find the scoby called a pancake, mushroom, or baby.  The scoby feeds off the sugar in the tea and it slowly ferments the tea, giving off probiotics, organic acids, enzymes, and vitamins.  It is a conglomeration of good stuff for you - especially for intestinal health.  After the tea is ready, if you bottle it, it will get fizzy and is a great substitute for fizzy pop which has NOTHING good in it for you. (just a little passionate about that - as an ex-Mt. Dew addict!)

You can look it up on the internet and find people claiming that it has done all sorts of miraculous things for their health.  The thing that jazzes me the most, besides being a great source of probiotics, is one of the organic acids it produces - glucuronic acid.  In a day when we are getting all sorts of toxins in our system, whether it be pesticides in foods we eat or BPA residue from plastic containers and commercially canned foods, this is one powerhouse little acid you don't want to be without.  It's main claim to fame is it's ability to grab those toxins in the liver and take them out of your body.  This stuff will keep you clean!

Now I have heard that you should start in small doses, like 2 oz. a day, and let your system get used to it.  But I didn't read that until I had been downing 16 oz. a day for quite awhile.  I didn't have any problems with it, but don't say I didn't warn you!

Now here is the great part.  Instead of paying roughly $4 a bottle for this stuff, you can make it at home.  We started brewing kombucha back before we moved to Iowa.  We drank so much we purchase a giant 5 gallon glass container with a spigot at the bottom from Costco.  The box it came in pictured lemonade, but I knew it was the perfect kombucha brewer.  :)

To make kombucha you heat 3 quarts of water (purified - you don't want to use chlorinated water) til it is hot but not quite boiling.  Then you steep 5-7 teabags in the water for 15 minutes.

I use generic black tea.  Green tea is also supposed to be really good.  There are a couple other varieties of tea you can use, but these two are the basics.  After you remove the teabags, dissolve 1 cup of sugar in the water.  Now put the lid on the pan and let it come to room temperature.  I like to do this before going to bed and let it sit on the stove all night.  In the morning you are ready to proceed and don't have to worry about it still being too hot.

You preferably want to use a glass container that will hold 1 gallon. (unless you are kombucha junkies like we are and then you can trade up to the 5 gallon jar!)  Again, there are other types of containers that can be used, but glass is the best, and you can easily see how your scoby baby is doing.  Make sure that both your hands and the container are clean.  Pour the tea in the fermenting container and add your scoby and 2 cups of starter. (previous kombucha tea)  Now cover the container with a paper towel, coffee filter, or clean towel.  Secure it with a rubber band and find it a spot out of direct sunlight where it can sit undisturbed.

Here is our little baby that I just started today.  We haven't had kombucha since we had a batch grow mold on it, which means you have to throw it out and start over.  Unfortunately, I didn't have the recommended back up scoby and starter hanging out in the fridge for just such emergencies.  So we have been without because I couldn't find anyone local who would give me a starter. (like I was able to find in AZ)

But I bought the previously pictured bottle of plain organic kombucha and have let it sit in the fridge for awhile.  It already started growing a little baby inside the bottle.  I made up a mini batch of tea (2 cups, 2 teabags, and 2 Tbs. sugar) and combined the room temperature bottle of kombucha with the tea.  I will post pictures of the process as it grows.  Once this scoby has grown, I will have enough starter to make a full batch of kombucha.  We like it flavored with an ounce or two of grape juice (that includes the kiddos!) and have saved a bunch of bottles so we can make our own delicious fizzy kombucha drinks.

Now I'm getting impatient.  Grow, baby, grow!!