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by Monica Melograna-Ward

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Guest Blog Post

Tested and Written by Jamie Andrew Ward
Edited by Monica Melograna-Ward

Jamie’s Kombucha – 101

K1

Before you begin, you must get a SCOBY. This is the engine that drives the whole kombucha car. You can get one online or ask a friend for one. A “baby” scoby (which can be easily peeled off and removed) grows with each batch, so people can share them easily.

You’ve gotten your scoby. Now what do you do?

K2

Step A1: Boil water.
I always use a little extra water, in addition to what would fill my container – due to evaporation. Boil it for 15 minutes to ensure that any impurities are gone.

K3

Step A2: Make a big batch of black tea.
Black tea works best and helps keep the scoby healthy. You can use herbal, but only after a few batches with black tea. Then you need to go back to black. I use 18 tea bags per 1.5 gallons.

K4

Step A3: Add sugar.
I use 2 cups per 1.5 gallons of water. The scoby ferments on the sugar and thus eats most of it. The longer you ferment, the less sugar you have in your kombucha. GTS has 2g per serving. I aim for about that level.

Step A4: Make sure that the sugar has dissolved into the water, then cool.
Let your mixture return to room temperature. This is crucial, because hot water will kill a scoby.

Step A5: Place in large GLASS container. Cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band to seal the top.
This lets the air in, and thus fermentation to occur. It also keeps the bugs out. Gnats love kombucha. I like jars with a spout, but the spout must not be metal!

K5

Fermentation

Step A6: Place in cool, dry location for about 2 weeks.
You can taste along the way to check on how your production is going. You can use a straw and extract a sample. Insert the straw into the liquid, then cover one end of the straw with a finger to pull some drops out.

2 weeks later…

K6

Secondary Fermentation (Bubbles and Flavor)

Step B1: Remove scoby, and some of the tea, into a separate container.
Store this until your next batch. You can look up how to keep a scoby and feed it between batches. I tend to do one batch after another, so I have not had need to learn how to do this.

K7

Step B2: Add a tablespoon or two of sugar to the tea.
You will see it foam up.

K8

Step B3: Set out your sterilized jars.
I run then through the dishwasher, twice. Recycled GT containers work the best. I was using ball jars also, but was not getting the fizz that I get from the GTs. I completely stopped using the mason jars. In a pinch, they work OK.

Step B4: Add juice, if desired, to the bottom of your jars, for flavor.
I use ½ cup of juice per 16 oz container. Add juice. Then add the tea.

K9

Step B5: Close containers tightly. Let sit (counter or table) for about 3-7 days.
I have found SEVEN to be the magic number of days – so, exactly one week.

Step B6: On the 8th day, refrigerate all bottles.
This slows down the fermentation process and allows your mixture to mellow, or, at the least, take its time developing. Experiment, have fun, and feel free to choose your own chill date.

Note:
If you get something slimy in your bottles, this is a baby scoby. You can remove or swallow this. It won’t harm you to ingest (GROSS! – comment by MMW).

Handy Tip:
When I clean the big containers, I use hot water, and a very versatile product, VINEGAR. I get a large bottle of white vinegar at Costco for about $3.00. It helps keep the PH okie dokie. I use vinegar to clean my coffee pot too. So, if you not only love kombucha, but also coffee, this is a great (and natural) cleaning product to keep stocked in your kitchen.

Conclusion

In the intervening weeks, I assess what I did and didn’t like about the latest, completed batch. Then, adjustments can be decided upon for the next time I begin production. Trial and error is where you will live for a while: More or less sugar, more or less juice, more or fewer tea bags, more or less sugar before the secondary fermentation, etc….

You’ll find your rhythm, enjoy special recipe homemade kombucha and save a lot of $$$. That’s it!

Happy Saturday and Enjoy Your Weekend Projects!

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