I brew this stuff so often I’m actually surprised that I’ve NEVER blogged a reliable recipe before now. However, I’m pretty stoked to get this recipe in when the right lighting is used and I had such an anomaly of a mother to show you all!
The snow was falling outside and I wanted to buy myself a little time before heading out to plow our 130 foot long driveway in the minus temperatures. I figured I would do a little spot on Fermentation because I don’t find a lot of people talking about it, and I find the process rewarding and meditative.
In order to start a brew you are going to need a SCOBY or a mother. A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacterial yeast. You cannot find these just anywhere and much like a sourdough starter, you need to either have one gifted to you or find your own.
If you’re looking for a free mother, I have lots, just drop me a line. To find your own, I suggest picking up a couple of bottles of store-bought bottled Kombucha and using any of the remnants inside the bottle to inoculate your first batch. You can test your store-bought booch for potency by removing the lid, placing on a light cloth and allowing it to sit on your counter top for a week or so. You should find that a bottle-sized SCOBY will begin to appear on the top. If not, you have no live bacteria – try again.
Kombucha (and Kraut) are the two greatest sources of beneficial bacteria for the human gut. Yogurt and any other pasteurized (heated) commercial products claiming to be loaded with probiotics are, well, frauds. Besides, all Yogurt is is cholesterol and diabetes in a jar with little-to-no bacteria left after heat pasteurization. Beware false claims.
To start this process first find yourself a very large glass or crock-ware vessel. Do not use metal or plastic ever. The vessel you choose should be able to hold at least 5 litres of liquid.
2 cups Kombucha for inoculating
4 litres of water – 2 boiled & 2 cold
2 cups sugar (kombucha loves cheap horrible refined sugar the best, but I use organic sugars)
5 bags of tea (green, white, black work the best – you cannot use tea with essential oils such as Earl Grey as this will mould in your brew and you will have to toss everything out. Unlike sauerkraut, Kombucha mold cannot be skimmed off of the top. )
Flavouring: berries, herbs, fresh juices, vanilla beans. These can be frozen or fresh!
Bring 2L of water, sugar and teabags to boil on the stove top. Allow to sit and cool for an hour or so.
Remove tea bags.
Place boiled water and cold water in your brewing vessel.
**It is imperative you ensure your brew is cool enough to inoculate! If too hot, your mother will melt!
Inoculate with starter reserves and mother.
Cover loosely with a tea towel and wait approximately 5 days to taste. On days 3 & 4 you should notice a skin starting to form on the top of your vessel. This is a new mother and it is perfectly fine! If you notice no change (ie: no new mother) wait 2 more days. If still nothing, you need to start over, your SCOBY was dead!
If you DO see changes and no mold by day 5, have a taste, if it’s to your liking now you can add your flavouring but first, we separate out at least 2 cups of tea and at least one active mother to store in a small glass vessel until our next brew.
Flavouring should be done in separate batches without mothers to avoid tainting with flavour if at all possible.
Some mothers sink, some float – that’s fine and dandy.
You can brew until you like the flavour. The longer, the stronger/more sour.
Try all types of teas with caffeine for different flavours. Booch lives on sugar and caffeine so it can’t be brewed with herbals.
If you brew too long, you’ll have vinegar, but it’s great for salad dressings!
Brewing times shorten in the summer and are longer in the winter OR are shorter when the brew stays warmer as a rule. Sometimes I place my vessel on a heat register to keep the brew warm in winter.
Keep bottled brew in the fridge or it could explode. Collect old bottles with toppers (like Grolsch beer) to bottle individual brews.
Note your brew times and flavour combos for reliable brewing every time.