Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yay! My water kefir is fizzy!

I must have brewed 4 batches before I started on the right track. There is so much conflicting information out there. Most people say that water kefir needs to breathe, just like kombucha, and should be covered with a cloth or filter, whilst others say you need a sealed container. My previous batches were not fizzy at all so, at the risk of exploding my container, I sealed my jar and wrapped it in a towel. I even put it cabinet under the sink just in case. I left it there for two days and checked it this morning. Voila! Fizzy cranberry flavored water kefir! The fizziness only lasted a few seconds but it was good while it lasted.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shhhhh...Kombucha is sleeping!

I'm not sure why, but my kombucha brewing environment was so good that I was bottling way more than I could drink. I was doing the continuous brewing method with two batches (1 gal & 1.5 liter containers) and they were both ready to bottle within 2 days after the last bottling. I decided this morning to put one of my SCOBYs to sleep. It was the larger of the two, the one in the 1 gallon jar. That batch was particularly quick to reach drinkable stage. I found that I only had to leave the bottles out for second fermentation for one day as they reached my desired level of carbonation by that time. I was also able to find a 3 liter glass sun tea jar (plastic spigot not optimal but seems most readily available) at my local grocery store and transferred the 1.5 liter batch to the larger container, which I topped off with fresh tea/sugar solution. The pineapple is still my favorite flavor but I do enjoy a splash of guava nectar in it.

As far as my new foray into water kefir brewing, I am not sure it's going well. I got my live kefir grains in the mail on Thursday and brewed my first batch that day. I let it sit for 48 hours as was suggested. The water got slightly opaque, which is normal, I think, but not carbonated at all. I bottled it and hoped it would progress into the fizzy, soda pop-like beverage everyone is raving about, but it did not. I hate to say but I tossed it. It didn't have much flavor at all. Sortof a flat, very weak lemonade. I brewed my second batch and it, too, grew slightly opaque and looks like it's getting fizzy, but I'll see tomorrow. So as easy as it is to brew, compared to kombucha, it seems as though I'm a better kombucha brewer!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pineapple Kombucha. Yum!

I have been doing the continuous brew method so far for my two different kombuchas. I have already made three bottles for second fermentation that I've flavored differently. One black tea kombucha has cherries & ginger. That is quite good. One black tea kombucha has blueberries. Also quite good. My favorite thus far, however, is the green tea kombucha with pineapple. Yum, yum, yum! They're all slightly sweet and fizzy.

Because the SCOBY baby had gotten thicker and opaque, I decided to bottle what was left in my container and start a fresh batch instead of continuously brewing that batch. I read that new babies don't form when you're continuously brewing (not sure if this is true) and I want to build up a supply of a couple of SCOBYs before doing more continuous brewing. Also, I'd like to get myself a 1-gallon sized container to do this in, preferably something with a spigot but the only ones I've seen have either plastic or metal spigots. I've just been ladling it out a bit at a time so far and that has been working.

Just to show how quickly the baby forms, check out these pictures of my green tea SCOBY over a three day period. The last picture shows the much smaller mother culture and the new, larger baby above it.

Next up will be my foray into water kefir, which is also a probiotic loaded drink. I've just ordered some live water kefir grains from an eBay vendor and will document the process here as well.

UPDATE: While doing my grocery shopping at my local Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, I found a 1 gallon glass "cracker jar" container for under $6.00. It was just what I was looking for and the cheapest I've seen thus far. They had sun tea jars with spigots but they were plastic, so I passed on them. After washing thoroughly, I put my green KT in it and topped it off with some fresh brew.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

My Kombucha!

I'm not quite sure how I got interested in kombucha again. What is it and why should I drink it? The last time I brewed my own kombucha was 15 years ago when a classmate introduced me to it. She had problem skin and was told it would help clear it up. I don't remember why I was interested enough in it to make me want to drink it. What I do remember is that I made it in a large Tupperware bowl (not recommended anymore!) on top of my fridge and that I didn't have any instructions other than how to make it. The internet was new to me back then and I didn't think to look it up. However, with a 2 year old at home and me going to school full-time, it fell by the wayside. Back then, my friend gave me a nice big healthy SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) with which to brew my kombucha, but this time I didn't have one of those.

I started my first batch on 9/2/09 with some sweet black tea and a 16 oz. bottle of High Country Original Kombucha I purchased at Whole Foods. By this time, I had ordered a small SCOBY from a vendor on eBay, which I received on 9/6/09. I started the second batch that day with some sweet green tea. After 7 days, my first batch has formed a small SCOBY on the surface. It's still quite thin, getting a bit opaque, and has a couple of chunks of culture that were in my bottle of prepared kombucha. The smell is wonderful! It is still on the sweet side with a slight tang. The color has also changed from a typical black tea to what looks more like green tea. I need to let it go for a couple more days probably before I decant it. I'll let it sit on the counter, capped, for a couple of days further to let it develop some fizz (hopefully). I'm just afraid it'll explode!

The second batch (with the purchased SCOBY) still has a way to go. The SCOBY is resting on the bottom of the container and little chunks of a new culture are forming on the surface of the tea. It doesn't have the wonderful fermented smell yet, but it's young. I can't wait to taste the difference between the black tea and the green tea kombuchas.

I also want to try putting fruit and ginger in my tea when I decant it. I have some cherries, blueberries, and cranberries to add. Maybe even pineapple? I really love GT Dave's Kombucha drinks, especially the Synergy line. I'm especially fond of the Guava Goddess. I can see blending the homemade kombucha with some guava juice to get the same effect. Yum!

I'll post more on this later.