Okay, it’s not a total fail but I don’t qualify it as a success. Here’s how the story goes…
I love kombucha and Austin (to me, anyways) is a little kombucha mecca. You can buy it at most convenience stores, there’s a variety of local brewers, you can get it on tap at the farmer’s market or even some gas stations. It’s still an expensive drink to love but when you buy it in a growler, it’s not so bad.
Wilmington is not a kombucha mecca (as far as I can tell). Most of the varieties I’ve seen here are the standards and they don’t come on tap or in larger quantities. So I wanted to make my own. I ordered a Scoby online from Amazon and a bought a large glass jar from Target and researched kombucha recipes until I found one that seemed simple and easy. Live Simply seemed to have a very simple and easy to follow recipe online. I really like this blog/site but it didn’t have the tips that I needed as a first timer.
Well, in reality I shouldn’t do enough research. My first batch came out weak and not carbonated. Here’s the steps I followed from Live Simply and what I would have done differently.
1. Bring 12 cups, 3 quarts, of water to a boil. Add in 1 cup of sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add in 5 tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for about 5 minutes and remove the bags . Allow the tea to completely cool.
– Let’s up the steep time. I’m an intense tea person. 5 bags for 5 minutes is practically what I drink in the morning. I also learned with my additional research just how important it is that you allow the tea to cool. The tea should not even be warm. I’m afraid my tea may have been lukewarm when I made my first batch.
2. Once cooled, pour the sweet tea mixture in a gallon-size jar. Place your SCOBY inside the jar with 1/2- 1 cup Kombucha. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth and rubber-band. Store in a warm, dark place for at least 6 days up to 28-30 days. The longer your SCOBY and tea ferment the less sweet and more sour the tea will taste.
-Live Simply’s blogger, Kristin, only ferments for seven days so I thought I would do the same. Other sites suggest that you start tasting the tea after 5-7 days until it tastes the way you want it. I’ve got a second batch going right now that’s going to sit for at least two weeks. I like my kombucha tart.
3. Remove the SCOBY and any babies (these will grow from the original SCOBY and will typically be as large as the opening of the jar) from the Kombucha and reserve 1 cup of Kombucha liquid with the SCOBY in a bowl.
-My tea did not have a baby SCOBY which I didn’t even think about at first. I didn’t know that it’s an important sign of success to have a baby SCOBY. I’ve looked up possibilities as to why I don’t have one :
- I washed my tea container with anti-bacterial soap. This is a no-no apparently.
- Maybe my tea was too warm when I put in the SCOBY.
- It can take a SCOBY a couple batches to really get going. I’m really hoping this is the case because otherwise I may have killed my SCOBY.
4. Now, it’s time to add flavor. I chose to flavor mine with strawberries. I used 3 diced strawberries per bottle of Kombucha. In a another bottle, I added 1 cup of mango juice. Be creative, the possibilities are endless. Pour the Kombucha in each bottle. A funnel is a handy tool for pouring. You don’t want to waste any of that precious Kombucha. Seal your bottles and leave the Kombucha on the counter for two more days. This is called the second ferment. During this time the tea and flavor will infuse together creating a delicious, fizzy beverage. After two days, you can refrigerate your tea and start drinking.
-What I didn’t know with step 4 (but looking back I really should have known) was that you have to leave about an inch headspace at the top for the carbonation to occur. Since we’ve recently bottled two batches of beer you’d think I would have thought of this.
Don’t worry, I haven’t given up! My second batch is fermenting as we speak and I have… well, not high hopes but hopes at lease that this will be a bigger success.