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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Homemade Kombucha Tea

A week ago following Thanksgiving we were visiting our niece Brenda at her mother’s house and enjoying our visit very much with Cheryl & Mike too. The 3 introduced us to Kombucha Tea – we had never heard of it, but we immediately took to it! It’s tart and slightly bitter with a sweet/sour tangy vinegary taste: and we had several glasses of it. It was introduced to us at just the right time too – I had just that day said to my husband that I needed to find something else to drink besides coffee and Lipton’s Peach flavored Iced Tea all day long; I don’t drink pop, and even though I do have an occasional beer or glass of wine … I certainly can’t drink those options all day long! So Kombucha came into our lives at just the right time ;-)

And Cheryl, singing the praises of the probiotic wonders of Kombucha Tea, sent a gallon jar of homemade brew home with us to get our own stash started. Bless her :-D

So today I started our brew and it’s doing its fermenting thing right now. In about 3 days’ time we should be sampling our own fermented tea – I used loose leaf Jasmine black tea, homegrown blueberries, and grated ginger-root in my fizzy brewed concoction. We can’t wait to start sipping it! Both recipes are good ‘medicines’: blueberries are a proven ‘superfood’ low in calories and high in nutrients and are the King of antioxidant (delay of cell damage) foods – 1 cup of blueberries has 4 grams of fiber, 24% of vitamin C, 36% of vitamin K, and 25% of manganese. And 1 cup of blueberries is only 84 calories. Vitamin C can prevent and treat the common cold; can help with the absorption of iron in the body (really important to people like me who are severely anemic); also helps increase red blood cell counts, strengthen weakness in the body, ease sore arms & legs, renew flagging energy, and help with gum disease. Vitamin C helps decrease the risk of developing a urinary tract infection; can help prevent heart attacks and/or strokes; can prevent Alzheimer’s disease; can help prevent diabetes. Vitamin C may slow down the age-related progression of Macular Degeneration (loss of sight); and increases bone density. Vitamin K is essential in regulating normal blood clotting, and assists in transporting calcium efficiently throughout the body. Vitamin K is also necessary for bone health and also helps to prevent calcification (hardening) of arteries. Manganese is a trace mineral required for the body to function smoothly - crucial for a healthy metabolism & digestion, the absorption of calcium, proper function of the thyroid glands and sex hormones, and it seeks out and neutralizes rouge radicals roaming the body intent on damaging the body. Blueberries are a ((((WINNER!)))) in every sense of the word.

Ginger root is one of the healthiest and most delicious spices on the planet – even just a whiff of the freshly grated root is enough to make a person feel good ;-) Ginger has been renown since ancient days for its traditional and alternative medicinal qualities. It has been used to aide digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight the common cold. Ginger has a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect (prevent or stop cell damage to the body). Ginger may help to reduce muscle soreness and pain; and can help treat indigestion. Ginger may lower cholesterol levels, and improve brain function. Fresh ginger can also help lower the risk of infections as it is said to inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria in the body; ginger is also very effective against gum diseases … and is effective against infections of the lungs and respiratory tract (perfect for people like me who have weak lungs). Ginger is another superfood that is a ((((WINNER!))))

Here is the recipe I used … again, compliments to Cheryl ;-) I am posting Amanda Maguire’s recipe at (http://www.picklesnhoney.com/2012/04/25/how-to-make-kombucha/) with my pictures that I took while making the recipe:

·         1 Kombucha Scoby (the "mother")
·         2 C. Kombucha Liquid from Previous Batch, taken from the top of the jar
·         12 C. Water
·         5 Bags of Organic Green or Black Tea (or 5 Tbs. looseleaf tea)
·         1 C. Sugar (I used Raw Turbinado)
·         1 Gallon Glass Jar
·         Clean Cloth or Paper Towels
·         Rubber Band
·         Glass Jars with Plastic Lids for Bottling
·         Fruit for Flavoring the Kombucha (optional)

The fermented 'starter mix' from Cheryl which I am using today to start my own batch of Kombucha Tea.
Ready - Set - GO!
1.   In a large pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil.

Boiling water.

2.   Add 1 C. of sugar to the boiling water and stir to dissolve.
3.   Turn off the stove and add 5 bags of organic green or black tea (or 5 tablespoons of loose leaf tea). I used green tea.
4.   Cover the pot to prevent the mixture from evaporating and allow it to come to room temperature. This will take some time, but it’s important that the mixture has cooled before moving on to the next step or you’ll kill all that good bacteria in the kombucha liquid.

Bringing Tea mixture to room temperature.

5.   Once the water/sugar/tea mixture has cooled to room temperature, remove the tea bags and pour the mixture into a large glass jar (I used a 1 gallon biscotti jar from Williams Sonoma).

Spongy starter floating on top of the fermented tea given to me by Cheryl; I removed it from this jar and put it into a bowl to use as starter in my new batch of Kobacha tea. I found the middle of the fleshy ‘mushroom’ and tore it apart horizontally to make 2 pieces – 1 for each ½-gallon jar. The scoby feels as weird as it looks.
Preparing the Kombucha mix; I used two ½-gallon jars because I didn’t have a large gallon jar.

6.   Using clean hands, add the kombucha scoby to the tea mixture, followed by 2 cups of the reserved kombucha. It's okay if the scoby sinks to the bottom of the jar.

Blending of the old and new teas ... with the divided scoby. The previous fermented mixture is pungent, and the scoby looks and feels like a rubberized alien entity.

7.   Cover the top of the jar with a clean dish towel or 2 layers of paper towels and secure it with a rubber band. This will keep fruit flies and other bugs out, while still allowing air to circulate.

The fermenting process begins with my homemade batch …

8.   Place the jar in a warm, dark spot (I chose the top, back shelf in my pantry) where it won’t be disturbed, and allow it to to sit for about 7 days before taking a peek. You should see a thin, cloudy-looking film growing over the top of the mixture – this is a new baby scoby!
9.   Insert a straw below the baby scoby and taste the kombucha. You'll know it's ready to bottle when it has an apple cider vinegar taste and isn't overly sweet.
10.     If the kombucha still tastes sugary, allow the mixture to ferment for 3-7 more days, tasting every so often until it meets your taste preferences.
11.     Once the kombucha is ready, prepare your glass jars. You can add a small amount of fresh or frozen fruit (for example, a tablespoon or two of blueberries, strawberries, ginger, whatever you like) to the empty jars.

The scobyless Kombucha Tea Cheryl made and gave to me ready to be poured into the fruited jars.
.Homegrown blueberries and freshly grated  ginger root - these teas are gonna be delish as well as healthy.
2 blueberry jars and 2 ginger-root jars waiting for the fermented liquid.

12.     Pour the kombucha into the jars, straining out the yeast strands if you like.

Straining the Kombucha liquid to remove the scoby debris.

13.     Fill the jars to the very top and make sure to use plastic lids (metal can erode). The less air in the jar, the more natural carbonation will take place and the more fizzy your finished product will taste. Fruit will also create carbonation.

Looking good ...

14.     Allow the bottled kombucha to ferment for 1-3 more days in a warm, dark spot, making sure to "burp" (loosen the lids a bit to release pressure build-up, then tighten up again … not too tight though) the jars every so often to release any pressure. This is important, as the jars can explode if carbonation builds up!

All the jars of my homebrewed Kombucha Tea has been prepared and set to fermenting: the large jars for another week - the smaller jars for 3 days. CAN'T WAIT!

15.     After the 2nd fermentation, move the bottled kombucha to the fridge to prevent further fermentation.
16.     Enjoy (and repeat this process for your next batch)!

If at any point during the process you notice green mold forming in the mixture, toss it and start over. This can happen when the liquid isn’t acidic enough, which is why it’s so important to add that full 2 cups of the bottled kombucha. The time it takes for the kombucha to ferment is very much dependent on environmental factors and it’s not an exact science. If you find, for example, that the kombucha tastes acidic enough at 6 days instead of 7, for example, go ahead and move on to the bottling process. I personally find that 10 days is about how long it takes to get the right flavor. Each time you brew kombucha, a new scoby will grow on top. It's a good idea to save a few as back-ups in case something happens to your original scoby. To do this, simply add your leftover scoby to a glass jar, cover with finished kombucha liquid, and close the jar using a lid (not a towel) to prevent the kombucha liquid from evaporating (a metal lid is okay as long as the liquid isn't touching it). Store the jar in a warm, dark place.