Strange and wonderful things are again growing in my kitchen. I first brewed water kefir back in May of 2010. It is an amazing probiotic drink, similar to Kombucha. Then I grew Mr. Kamut and had fun with sourdough, but alas, gluten free eating came upon us. I have taken a long break from bacteria-growing but decided, for health reasons, it was time to try my hand at it again. I first heard of Kombucha about six years ago. It was at the time that we first began eating more healthy foods and I was completely new to fermented food and drink. We got a fancy 3-gallon jar and tried to brew our own, but after green mold started growing on the SCOBY, we decided that was the end of that idea.
But now we are helping our two new girls recover from multiple parasites (i.e. major intestinal issues!) and limit, as much as possible, the bad effects of antibiotics they will be on for the next nine months due to TB infection. And then there are two of “the originals” who have had bad tummy aches and digestive issues off and on since birth. I was spending a fortune on refrigerated probiotic tablets to try to help their guts.
Let’s just say, Kombucha is a LOT cheaper! And it is recommended by dietitians…and my doctor (which, of course, was a pleasant surprise). I chose Kombucha for now, over water kefir because of the ease of the SCOBY versus having to mess with the kefir grains. I got a starter from my neighbor and began brewing 1 gallon at a time. I am now brewing three gallons at one time as we can easily go through 6-7 bottles of it a day, if I have it on hand. I have flavored some of it with a frozen berry blend and also a few with ginger. I have been adding pure blueberry juice to the latest batches (in place of fruit or ginger). And I cannot tell you how much the kids love this stuff! And it even passes Adam’s taste test, although he commented recently that he never gets any because the kids down it so quickly. So I have to hide a bottle in the fridge for him. I find great satisfaction in creating healthy yet cheap goodness for my family. I have shared the recipe I am using below, which I found here.
Bring 3-1/2 quarts filtered water brought to a boil, then remove from heat. Add 1 cup of Florida Crystals and 8 tea bags. Let sit until cool. I get my tea from Trader Joe’s and use 4 Mango black tea bags and 4 green tea bags. Once it is cool, remove tea bags and add 1 cup of already-made Kombucha (very important!).
Pour into a glass brewing jar..this one is a 1-gallon. The SCOBY floats to the top and grows a new layer of mushroom each week, which can be pulled off and given away or thrown out. I have actually let my mushrooms grow, so they are getting thicker and thicker. I think this speeds up the brewing time.
So it looks kind of gross, but this is home education science right here. Yeast and bacteria in a symbiotic relationship, working to create a bi-product that is exceptionally good for you.
Cover with a paper towel so it can breathe. But cover the jars with a towel so that light does not hit it. Or they could be put into a dark cupboard.
After about 7 days (longer if you like it really tart, or shorter if you like it sweeter), make a new batch, bottle the old and let the bottles sit to increase carbonation. We got these bottles from a beer brewing store here in our town, back when we were brewing water kefir.
Definitely the highlight of the day! They have a Kombucha chant they all do…really hilarious.