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You just never know what will turn up on this blog. This is my Kombucha recipe, which I cannot take credit for. It was passed to me by Anne Catherine Bridell, a healing facilitator and brewer in the Nelson County area. See the notes after recipe for why you would want to brew or drink this ghastly, I mean, healthy concoction.
1. Bring to a Boil 3+ quarts filtered water. (2.84 Liters)
[I no longer recommend boiling for long periods of time, as this reduces oxygen and carbon necessary for proper kombucha fermenting. Use water of known quality. Heat the water to dissolve the sugar and extract the tea.]
2. Add Tea. 5-7 tea bags or 2-3 tsp. loose tea usually 15 grams
3. Steep 15 minutes. NOTE: refer to the specific tea brewing recommendations.
4. Add Sugar – 1 cup Sugar (6-8 ounces / 200-300 grams)
5. Allow to cool to room temperature
Keep covered and be careful of contamination at this stage as the brew is a highly Sweet and Appetizing. It is important to let the sweet tea brew cool down, because adding hot water to a large glass jar can cause it to crack or break, ruining your jar and your present batch.
7. Pour cool, room temperature liquid into fermenting container. (Large pickle jar works for me – allows for single batches, a barrel with a spout on it allows for a continuous brew, home beer brewing equipment also works well.)
8. Add Kombucha Mushroom (which is also at room temperature). You can buy a kit or get a mushroom from a friend, like me, who has extra – as they reproduce with each batch.
9. Add 2 cups Previously Fermented Kombucha Brew as a Starter. (25%)
[use the liquid that came with the mushroom starter ] or use 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. (to reduce the pH and protect the ferment from pathogens). Do not use un-pasteurized non-distilled apple cider.
10. Cover with a clean cloth, paper towel or coffee filter (cheese cloth or coffee filter work best, if unavailable use a clean cloth which covers the entire spout of the container and then use a rubber band to seal well). Set aside in a quiet undisturbed spot. Every time the liquid is disturbed the mushroom will begin to start forming over again and not form properly. (This last sentence is a little strong, I believe it takes quite a disturbance to disrupt the mushroom’s process. However, I would not shake the container or move it while it is fermenting.)
11. Ferment. 6 – 8 days normal brew cycle at 80F constant temperature, 8-14 days in the 70s F). 60F or below is not recommended. First time may take longer. Temperature Range: 68-83 degrees Fahrenheit. (20 – 26 degrees Centigrade). The pH 2.7 to 3.2.
Save 1-2 cups (8-16 oz/240-500 ml) to begin another batch. Each batch should produce another mushroom (SCOBY). Save one mushroom and tea safely away in the event of some disaster. Use either mushroom to start another batch. You may also combine mushrooms or give away to friends.
Okay – that is the info I got from friends, along with a little of my own editorials. I have found that you can use any kind of caffeinated tea, or, every other batch if you want, use a red tea (rooibos). For some reason the mushroom flourishes in caffeine – I guess there are fungus junkies too. Therefore, if you are like me, and are sensitive to caffeine, you can still brew a form of kombucha, but I would recommend “recharging” your mushroom every other or every third batch.
Why would anyone want to drink this vinegar-smelling / tasting concoction? Well, from my personal experience, it is very beneficial for my digestion. In my limited studies on the Kombucha subject, the fermentation process creates many healthy probiotics and actually, when the acidic liquid is digested, it forms an alkaline pH in the body, which is very healthy. After a few drinks, you get used to the taste and actually, depending on what kind of sweetener and tea you use, you can really make diverse variations. For instance, you can experiment with honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses or other types of sweeteners – I used rice syrup with positive results on one batch.
I know there are websites which post the “dangers” of home brewing kombucha, but in my experience of years of brewing beer at home and now with non-alcoholic fermentation, if we are careful about cleaning all the equipment and supplies (sanitizing), then it is difficult to create a “rogue” batch. Only once in eight years have I produced something which might have been able to start an engine, and I swiftly determined the difference from the odor and I did not drink it (that was a batch of beer several years ago).
Now I am not recommending you do this on your own – I would recommend you work with someone who has experience and who knows what it is supposed to taste like. But I certainly do not pay attention to nay sayers in this case. The problem with purchasing the store brands of kombucha is that they are either pasteurized (and missing many of the healthy bioflora) or they are not pasteurized and you might be taking a chance with their product.
Overall, it is a fun process and watching with unusual curiosity, all the various striations and forms the mushrooms take as they grow (sometimes it can be a bit bizarre and fascinating), I find it to be a valuable and worthwhile endeavor.