DIY: Kombucha

Posted on May 12, 2013 by

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Today, in honor of Mother’s Day, our DIY project is all about the mother. Well, kind of!

Sometimes called “the mother,” the kombucha culture is a “symbiotic colony of bacteria or yeast,” aka SCOBY. Basically, kombucha would be impossible without the mother, and we thought this a timely connection for a day all about celebrating mothers!

brandon and katherineThis weekend, we hung out with some of our favorite local readers, Katherine and Brandon, that happen to make some really great kombucha right at home, and they make it look super easy.

You’ve probably spotted kombucha in local grocery stores and local companies, such as Barefoot Bucha and Nuggets Raw Kombucha, making their own and selling it at the City Market, Integral Yoga, Market Street Market, Whole Foods and more! There’s not a whole lot of research behind this sometimes toted “health elixir,” but it is known for having a good deal of probiotics in it, and at the very least we think it’s a tasty and refreshing drink!

Here’s a short Q&A with some more information and as well as two recipes for some DIY kombucha!

What got you into kombucha? Do you see a difference in how you feel day to day?

I think I tried that “main stream” brand in Whole Foods, and just loved the taste. Then I found out that one of my friend’s mom brewed her own, and she taught me her ways (and gave me a part of her mother (aka scoby)! Getting a mother from a mother– can’t get more motherly than that.)

So, for me it’s just a tasty drink that I enjoy. I also like learning DIY sort of things, and so the home brewing side was appealing. Also, store bought ‘boucha is spensiiive!!

As for health benefits, I hear kombucha has probiotics and things like that, but I just drink it for the taste. All of the health benefits are just a bonus. I don’t know that I have necessarily noticed a difference in my health, but I have had such a blast experimenting with different flavors to make.

Where are good places to look for a mother, or scoby – the part that does the fermenting?basic kombucha © Cville Niche

Where ever kombucha is brewed, you will find a mother (aka SCOBY). People will often sell them on Craigslist, but just make sure to get one from a trusted source, or someone that knows how to brew. Fifth Season on Preston often sells them also. Mothers just keep growing as they are “fed” sweet tea. When they get fairly large they can be split into pieces, and the pieces become mothers that can produce their own ‘boucha! So, if you have any friends or family who brew kombucha or who are interested in brewing, ask them if they’ll let you have a piece of their mother (may feel weird to say this at first…). A piece of advice though: If you are looking for one in a store, you may want to avoid saying, “do you sell mothers here?” Ask if they sell SCOBYs.

What’s been your favorite flavors so far?

Raspberry Ginger has been the most successful, but I’m still working on this lime, brown sugar, basil mix. I think it could be incredible if I get the right proportions.

Good website reference to learn about proportions?

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/make-kombucha#kombucha_equipment_ingredients

So you’ve named your mother Ursula?

She kind of looks like an evil sea creature, and she just grows and grows. It just fit.

What kind of TLC do you need to do for your mother?

We “feed” Ursula with sweet black tea that we brew every 2-4 weeks, depending on how fast we are drinking the kombucha. Otherwise, we try to keep her concealed under a sombrero so people don’t get freaked out by her… uniqueness…

Is making kombucha something that anyone can do?

I think most people could handle a continuous kombucha brew system at home, but it’s not for everyone. Again, not everyone is ok with the idea of a jelly fish looking blob fermenting tea into kombucha — they’d rather buy the bottled versions from stores and not face the SCOBY. And that’s fine — I get not wanting to explain to guests that come over asking, “WTF is that thing in your kitchen?!” all the time.

What makes it special?

Making/brewing something yummy! Also doing it with Brandon has been fun — we talk about Ursula like she’s a person: “Wow, look at Ursula! She’s really getting big!” or, “We should feed Ursula soon…”

The Details

As mentioned above, in order to keep the main kombucha batch healthy and fresh, they keep the tea and mother in a large container that allows for some air to go in and out and also drink from it fairly often during the week.

They keep it in the living room on a shaded side of the room with a top that allows for ventilation. You don’t have to keep it in a closet or basement as is often referenced, just not in direct sunlight or a hot room. The basic batch in the large container is just the black tea (with one Chai bag for an extra zing) and sugar. The mother feeds on the sugar in the tea and so begins the fermentation process. You’ll want to let the batch sit for a couple of days to allow the mother enough time to process/remove the sugar otherwise the kombucha will taste like sweet tea.

During our visit, we made Katherine’s favorite flavors, lime, basil and brown sugar and raspberry ginger.

Make sure you have a couple of glass bottles that will seal tightly, and you’ll need to keep these in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days.

Lime Basil Brown Sugar Kombucha

(You’ll need to have a container of plain kombucha already made and ready to be used)

basil lime brown sugar kombucha ingredients © Cville Niche

Ingredients (make adjustments according to the preferred intensity of flavor)

  • 1 handful of basil leaves chopped (around 4-7 leaves)
  • The juice of two limes
  • 2 tsp brown sugar

Drop the ingredients in a glass bottle (we used a cleaned out wine bottle) and shake around a bit. Then fill the bottle up with the plain kombucha, seal it with a top and refrigerate for 2-3 days before drinking. A cheese cloth or small size colander can be useful when you’re pouring it out to avoid having chunks of the flavor in the cup.
basil lime brown sugar kombucha © Cville Niche

Raspberry Ginger Kombucha

(You’ll need to have a container of plain kombucha already made and ready to be used)

raspberry jam and ginger root © Cville Niche

Ingredients (make adjustments according to the preferred intensity of flavor)

  • 3 tsp raspberry jam
  • A small or medium ginger root (depending on your desired ginger intensity), peeled and chopped thinly enough to fit through the mouth of the bottle

Drop all the ingredients in a glass bottle (we used a cleaned out wine bottle) and shake around a bit. Then fill the bottle up with the plain kombucha, seal it with a top and refrigerate for 2-3 days before drinking. A cheese cloth or small size colander can be useful when you’re pouring it out to avoid having chunks of the flavor in the cup.
raspberry ginger kombucha © Cville Niche

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