by Emily Coalson
Fact #1: I love tea. I drink it every day. I cherish it. I depend on it for comfort, stability and 20 bucks when I’m down on my luck.
Fact #2: Fermented foods are very good for you. They help balance the flora in your gut, and maybe the fauna in there, too, if you eat live bugs (ew).
Fact #3: Fermented tea (kombucha) is good for you, delicious AND costs a lot of money at the store.
Fact #4: I’m terrible at growing plants, but a wizard at growing bacteria in the kitchen.
Therefore, egged on by the continuous stream of articles and blogs encouraging me to make and eat fermented foods, and my success in creating my own sourdough culture, I decided I should start home brewing my own fermented tea. It will be great to take to school with me for lunch time!
I’m embarking on a kombucha adventure. It starts today.
The first thing I need is a scoby. The scoby (also called a “mother,” though I would never call my mother a scoby – they’re hideous) is like a scum of healthy bacteria and yeasts that grows along the top of a kombucha as it ferments. Most websites I looked at when researching kombucha home-brewing seem to assume that I already have a scoby, which I don’t. I looked everywhere I could think of for a scoby, but couldn’t find one for sale without ordering online, and I wanted my kombucha NOW.
Then, like the first star in a night sky, this website beamed its light upon my brow. Wait, I can make my own scoby with nothing more than a store-bought bottle of kombucha and some sweet tea?! Awesome.
That’s what I’m doing today, and here’s what it looks like:
Step one: steal the brand new iced tea jug from the fridge. Tyler will yell at me, but I read that a “continuous jar” is actually easier to deal with, since you don’t need to scoop the scoby out or anything.
Step two: pour the store bought bottle of kombucha into the jug, like so:
Step three: brew some tea. The teas I have on hand right now are some so-so family-sized iced tea bags, some really good lavender bergamot tea, a lychee-flavored black tea, and china green tips. I’m using the green tips because I know the quality is good, the other two good teas have extra oils and such which is supposed to be bad for the yeasties, and I don’t love the way this green tea tastes on its own, so I haven’t been brewing it anyway. I used water from our fridge dispenser, and I’m pretending that the filter in the fridge isn’t seven years old and is still doing some filtering work.
Step 4: sweeten the tea. Luckily, Tyler and I live with a baker so there is a large container of white sugar in the cupboard. Some day I’ll experiment with honey instead, but at the start I’m sticking with the refined stuff, as I read somewhere that raw brown sugar doesn’t play well with yeast. In the finished product, most if not all of the sugar will have been consumed by the yeasties and converted into healthful acids and minerally things.
Step 5: cool the tea down with more “filtered” fridge water.
Step 6: add the sweetened, room temp tea to the jug.
Step 7: cover the jug with a towel and secure with a head band because I don’t have a rubber band big enough.
Step 8: appreciate the fact that my kombucha looks like an ambassador from the United Arab Emirates.
Step 9: wait. In a few days, I should have a scoby, and be ready to add more sweetened green tea to the jug.
I’ll update you as things progress!