Okay, I'm going out on a limb here today. We are going to be making something that may not be every one's cup of tea.
Well, fermented sweet tea that is.
And I know it isn't for everyone, because no one in my family will come within a five mile radius of it.
But the health benefits are undeniable. So drink it we must. And believe it or not, you can learn to love it! My first interaction with this beverage had me plugging my nose and declaring it smelt of stinky gym socks.
Perhaps I was exaggerating. I have since grown to love it in all it's uniqueness.
But it does have a special vinegary aroma. You will know what I am talking about when you brew your own….
That's right folks. I ain't joking around about being a weird real food freak. Fermented beverages included. I began brewing my own kombucha when there was a recall on my favorite brand. You couldn't buy raw kombucha anywhere! It was like trying to snag moonshine – an underground following of crazy addicts that had to get their hands on the good stuff. Lucky for me, I had a dear friend who gave me a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) that she had gotten off one of her home brewed batches. Once I had my hands on the mother scoby, I was in business. I am such a rebel.
Kombucha has been drunk (drank? drunked?) for centuries. But it wasn't until the 1990's that kombucha was brought to the west. Renowned for it's detoxifying, probiotic, immune-building, anxiety-bashing, energy-lifting, liver-loving effects, it has vastly grown in popularity. Here are a few links to some great sites on the health benefits:
I drink it because it makes my belly feel good. It makes my gut feel good. It makes things….happy inside. It helps ward off sickness and really pumps up your immune system. Plus, you get the benefit that probiotics bring to your…ya know….intestines.
Give it a shot. You can do it.
You will need:
– 8 organic white tea bags (you can use any kind you like)
– 1 cup organic sugar
– 8 liters water
– Mother SCOBY
– Fermentation vessel
Step One: Bring water and sugar to a boil in a large pan
Step Two: Remove pan from heat and add your tea (I just hook my teabag strings around the handle of the pan)
Step Three: Steep the tea in the sweet water until the liquid has completely cooled to room temperature. This is important because we don't want the heat of the liquid to kill our good bacteria!
Step Four: Once cooled, remove and discard the tea bags. Scoop out two cups of the liquid and place into a mason jar or the like. Pour the rest of the liquid in a fermentation vessel. I use a food grade plastic bucket. Big glass jars always work well – but try and use something that has a large surface area. Think wide. You want the scoby to be able to grow over the surface of the liquid. Do not use a metal container.
Step Five: Add your scoby to the liquid. Plop!
Step Six: Cover the liquid and allow it to hang out for a week or so. Try to keep the container warm, but not hot. I just place ours near the heater, but not too close. Between 75 and 85 degrees is ideal. The warmer the environment is, the faster the scoby will grow.
Step Seven: After a week or so, test your batch! This is where personal preference comes in. Some people, like me, like their kombucha very acidic. Some people like it a little more sweet. The longer you let the kombucha sit, the more acidic it will become. I have acid-testing strips and will bottle the kombucha when it reaches somewhere between 2.8 and 3.2. A lot of people also do this by taste – just let it sit till it tastes good to you!
This is kombucha post-fermentation. You can see the scoby that has grown over the surface of the tea. It is ready to bottle!
Step Eight: When you are ready to bottle, just remove the scoby (you will now have two: your original scoby you started with and a new one that has grown on the surface of the kombucha) and put into the 2 cups of tea that you reserved in a jar back in step four. This will act as your starter scoby for the next batch!
After removing the scoby
My mother scoby and my new baby scoby
Step Nine: This step is optional, but I like to add some flavored goodness to my kombucha. Use 100% organic juice and add just a wee-bit to your brew (or to your liking). I have used pomegranate, cranberry, and grape but the combinations are endless. I have heard of people mixing in honey, ginger, fresh berries, and even chocolate! I like just a little bit of fruit juice – grape and cranberry are my favorites.
Step Nine: Bottle! You can use recycled beer bottles, recycled glass beverage bottles, etc. Use what you got – as long as you can get a nice, tight seal on the lid and it is sterilized and clean. The beverage will continue to carbonate as it sits. Keep 'em in the fridge once they are bottled.
Recycled beer bottles. We're resourceful!
I spilt when I took this picture. Multi-tasking can be hard.
My clan may not be the fanciest lookin' stash but it works!
It's not a very complicated process – I found the hardest part was getting my hands on a scoby! If you live in my area and want to get started – let me know! I have some baby scobys that are looking for a good home. You can also order them online, or even off craigslist!
Join the underground moonshine, I mean kombucha, revival. Your body will thank you.
Home brewing. Now THAT belongs on a homestead.
For other great meal ideas, no matter what your dietary restrictions, check out the meal planning service I use: Real Plans.