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kombucha 101

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I've been drinking commercially bottled kombucha since last fall, but it's $3/bottle and not always in stock.
I need to make this at home, but am really intimidated. I have the NT cookbook (though I haven't been using it lately : ) but I almost feel like I have to have someone SHOW me. Is anyone willing to break down the steps for me and show me how easy this really is?
post #2 of 6
I've never heard of this. What is it?
post #3 of 6
I used to grow kombucha. (Juniper -- it's sometimes called a mushroom but it's actually more like a culture, I don't know what the organisms are in particular, but the liquid tastes a lot like cider vinegar. The liquid is said to be a miraculous tonic for everything.)

I actually enjoyed the process a lot. It was kind of like my first pet. It's really cool and amazing how it grows in your kitchen and reproduces, and you just use the byproduct. I don't know what the NT book says, and I'm going from memory, so let me know if I leave out stuff you need to know.

Start with the right equipment. (eg enamel pot, no chips or other exposed metal; wooden spoon; nice size glass jar for keeping the kombucha, etc.) About the jar -- it will grow to the width and shape of the jar it is in.

As I recall, you have to use black tea. I don't remember the formula for water/tea/sugar. I didn't want to use sugar but the recipe I had said not to substitute. I wonder what NT says on this? . . . Really all you have to do is make the tea, let it cool, strain the liquid off the komb. and replace it with the new batch of tea. Then the hard part. Find someone who wants to have kombuchas and give them the new/second one. You have to do this every 7-10 days.

The primary reason I quit doing it was that I repeatedly had to throw out batches because they got moldy. (Years later the building had a major mold problem and I got really sick. I didn't know before then that mold can be dangerous. But looking back I suspect the building was sick long before I knew and that's why the kombuchas always molded.) If this happens, you will know. A good batch does not taste bad, like I said it's a lot like cider vinegar. (I guess some people would think that's bad, I didn't find it unpleasant at all.) If it tastes horrible or bitter, throw it out.

I don't know where to get a kombucha to start with. Do you?
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
I can get a scooby from a friend, I hope! Otherwise, I post looking here and on Craig's list
I don't have an enamel pot, and I'm not clear from your directions why I need one? Do I brew the tea in it? And how do you cover the jar for the 7-10 days? What is the best spot to let the brew culture (dark, cool, warm, etc) ? Thanks!!!
post #5 of 6
Yes, the enamel pot is for brewing the tea. You could also use a glass pot/saucepan. Just no metal.

I don't remember how I covered the jar. Hmmm. . . I seem to recall a big rubber band, I'm guessing cheesecloth.

I kept mine in the pantry, which was dark at one place I lived and light at the other. I think the light isn't important. Cool will slow growth, warm will stimulate it. If it's very warm the kombuchas will fill the top of the jar and grow very thick. Too cool and they will be very thin and hard to work with. It also affects how long you leave it before starting the next batch. If you want to slow it down (eg you're finding you have lots of beverage left over every week) place the jar in a cooler spot.

Rereading, I think I should elaborate on the jar. The best one I had was almost like a wide round canister, about 6 in. diameter. Maybe a wide-mouth gallon jar would work too, though I find those a little cumbersome to work with. I think the recipe I had made about a half gallon of tea.

have fun!
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I have a wide mouth gallon glass jar. NT says to criss-cross masking tap over the top and then lay a clean towel over that. I'm thinking I will heat the H2O in my glass kettle and brew in a pirex, then pour into the gallon jar.
Thanks! I'll keep you posted.
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