Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kombucha without a Scoby ?

About Kombucha...boy are we weird or what?!?! :-)lol

Do you have Sally Fallon's book with the Kombucha recipe in it?If so, just sub Kombucha tea starter with RAW Apple Cider Vinegar.. (health food stores have it as well as some grocery stores that carry even a minimum of health food.)If you can get ahold of Kombucha that is RAW, you may use 1/4 cup of it as well. I did that on my second batch and it's even better than the first, but if not:

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil with 1 cup of sugar.
Remove from heat and add 4 organic black tea bags.
Allow to cool to room temp.
Add 1/2 cup raw cider vinegar (if you can't get a scoby)and (if available) 1/4 cup of raw kombucha tea. (My first batch had no kombucha.)

This process will take longer. In fact it may take 3 to 4 weeks or more. You will notice by about a week and a half, a thin film forming on the top. Don't disturb it.Keep it in a warm dark spot. I like the cabinet next to the stove, cozy! Use a glass jar and cover with cheese cloth OR a piece of clean panty hose. (Funny, I know.)If at any time, your tea grows mold- toss it!

If scoby falls to the bottom, don't fret, it will continue to grow and will likely form another on top.

Keep everything around the tea clean. You don't want any foreign germies in there.

To make your next batch, just keep your little scoby along with a 1/2 cup of the tea or so, and repeat the process above without the raw vinegar.

This way takes longer and takes longer for the scoby to grow as big as the pics on the net, but it does work.

Your tea is ready when it no longer has a 'sweet tea' taste. It will be a little tangy-sour.

***Please know also, that there are some warnings about this tea on the net. One site stated that no more than 4 oz a day should be ingested. Another site claims to have linked it in the death of one lady and a heart attack with another. ***(There are also some who make this a great scientific event that you may find of interest.)
I know you are very healthy, but I couldn't share this without also sharing the negative things I've read as well.
I plan to post the recipe on my site soon. I would love to know how you do with this. Like I said, a young man told me about this at the health food store and I couldn't believe it myself until I tried it! I love the stuff!

I currently have a pot of Earl Grey waiting upstairs for my next batch!
(*Update: Earl Grey does NOT work for kombucha. The oils in this particular tea will cause a mold to grow on your scoby. If you like the flavor of Earl Grey, you can blend it in once you stop the fermentation process and bottle your kombucha.)
Yes, you can flavor your Kombucha!
(This was my reply to Niki who ask how I did it:-)


Cammie said...

I was wondering if there was a way to start kombucha without a scoby. Thanks, I will have to try this.

Anonymous said...

I just started messing around with Kombucha, and thought I'd chime in with my 2 cents. You can create your own SCOBY by either following her advice (using raw apple cider vinegar and giving it 3-4 weeks fermentation time in some sweet tea). Or, you can pop about $3-4 for a 16oz bottle of pre-made Kombucha. Go to your local yuppie/hippie health store, since they most likely have it (Kombucha hasn't quite caught on main-stream yet, which is sad, because health stores charge a fortune for it relatively speaking when compared to how easy it is to make.) Another way to make Kombucha is to just experiment with adding other fermented foods to sweet tea. When I first started, I set aside a bottle of store-bought Kombucha in a container to let it grow a SCOBY (be sure to get a bottle that has floaty stuff in it..since that's basically pre-formed scoby cruising around in there.) However, I also bought some Kefir and added it to some sweet tea in another batch, just to see if the Kefir would do the trick. Sure enough, a week later my store-bought Kombucha had a small layer of SCOBY on top, but the Kefir Kombucha was rockin'! The dairy solids in the kefir had separated and went to the top & bottom of the gallon container I put it in. The tea (I used a citrus spice herb tea) had gone very pale...orange colored, compared to the dark brown when I first started. I checked the top, and there was no mold, and it was fizzy. I poured some off to drink, and it was very good. I decided to decant off several bottles of the kefir batch, leaving about 1/4 of it left for a new batch. I then just added the store-bought Kombucha/scoby into the kefir mix just for grins. I did more sweet tea, tossed it in and it's currently "cooking" in my closet (I feel like it's illegal for some reason, which makes it all the more entertaining.) The reason I went with Kefir is because it uses a more aggressive fermenting strain than yogurt normally. You normally can't propogate more yogurt by just adding yogurt to milk. However, Kefir sometimes works. I figured with it just being introduced to sugar-water (the sweet tea), it probably had a good chance of fermenting. Also, Kefir ferments faster. When making Kefir from a Kefir starter, it usually is done in 24-48 hours. So, I figured Kefir would ferment faster. And boy did it do the trick! I left the diary clumps in there, and some even went into the bottles I decanted. The diary clumps are very soft and buttery, and taste just like the Kombucha drink. Now, in using Kefir, I may not be making "true" Kombucha. Real Kombucha may use a specific blend of other user-friendly bacteria & yeast. Kefir may use different ones. However, it's all the same concept...you get some friendly bacteria and yeast to ferment something. The Kefir worked out well. I was going to experiment with other teas, too, but I heard Earl Gray is bad for a SCOBY (some ingredient in it that can kill off the SCOBY). However, I also heard the citrus anything is bad, too, but I brewed my first batch of Kombucha using Citrus Spice. (Perhaps trying to use Orange Juice would be bad, though). I was going to try fermenting a batch of Apple Juice and see what happens. You basically just need some kind of sweetened substrate, and let it ferment. I also wonder if using Honey or Molasses would change the flavor. As a side note, unlike other folks I wasn't planning on just tossing a SCOBY directly into some fresh sweet tea. I was going to do like some other folks and parition off part of the Kombucha from the last batch, and use that as a base for the new batch. Like I did with my last batch, I just decated 3/4 of it off, then filled the batch back up with sweet tea. Essentially, just keeping it going in a never ending fermentation cycle. This is fun and entertaining. Plus, this stuff really hits the spot (especially after working outside in the heat ... it really quenches the thirst). Have fun!

Donna said...

Thank you so much for your comments.

I have lots of questions that I would love to ask you- do you have a blog?

Interesting about the Earl Grey, I did not have as much luck with it. I have kefir...can't wait to see what I can do with that in this context!!!

Bottled Kombucha was not available here up until very recently but it's $4 a bottle!

Would love to hear about more of your experiments in the future!

Ma said...

I make water kefir regularity and have been wanting to branch out into Kombucha...

Way cool instructions, thanks:)

Donna said...

I've always wanted to try water kefir....its on my list of to-dos!

I really love kombucha. It's quite fun!

Sarah Jump said...

Hi, Thanks for posting this its really hard to find a recipe to grow a mother scoby without already having kombucha tea in the house, now I know cider vinegar is the secret will try.

Also should let you know: something I've picked up in my kombucha research whatever tea you use should be free of oils like earl grey. not sure why the oils in earl grey tea are bad but according to others on the net you shouldn't do it. of course like everything on the net someone else had different results. so just wanted to put that out there FYI please post an update and tell us how the earl grey kombucha works for you.


Donna said...

Sarah Jump,
I'm so glad you posted! I should have updated that-oops!:)

You are correct!

Actually- the Earl Grey does cause a mold problem. That entire batch was ruined and I never tried that again- eek!

But I've used the vinegar to grow the scoby (over and over) and have never had a fail with the basic recipe. ..My failures come when I tuck the little scoby in the fridge and forget him. Sniff, sniff. ;-)

Geert Anthonis said...

Was very happy to find this website. It might surprise a lot of you reading this. I live in Taiwan where enormous amount of tea in all sorts of flavours and in very imaginative mixtures are drunk on a daily basis. Yet in all my years (close to 30 now living in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Macau, China and mostly in Taiwan I have never seen or drank kombucha. I have ask my co-workers, relatives, teashop owners and no one has even heard of it nor do they know the name in Chinese even after I show them a picture. They are even afraid to try it.

No matter where I have lived since leaving Belgium I have been brewing and baking. Have made my own beer when the local stuff was not to my liking, made yoghurt, bread, fruit wine, vinegar. And read about kombucha. Last month I was home on holiday and by chance could get my hand on two scobys. One my wife accidentally throw out thinking it was something gone bad. Luckily for me by then I had already brewed my first batch thanks to you sound advice. I did not follow your recipe as I like things in metric form, so much easier to work out proportions when everything is metric. Since there was no place to get any raw kombucha I was so happy to read that I could add vinegar to get started. It has worked like a charm. In fact it is working so well that in less than 2 weeks I already have 5 healthy scobys to work with if I would chose to do so. It is currently about 28 to 33ºC (82 to 91ºF) in our kitchen and we don't use aircon so things move along.

On the first batch it took 5 days to form a new scoby on top. When I went in to have a taster. That scoby sank to the bottom to join the one I used to start the batch. I picked it out that day and for the fun of it started a new batch with different teas and with the kombucha I already had.

Within days the first bacth formed a new scoby. After I tasted again it too sank to the bottom and is still there but in the remaining 7 days yet another scoby has formed on top.
On the second batch it took also about two days for a new scoby to start forming. In that batch I added honey. The scoby is a bit brown but the kombucha is heavenly. Not too sweet anymore after 7 days but aromatic and fizzy. What was at first a small round scoby to one side of the jug has now taken over the complete surface.

I'm about to drain off the first batch and use the two new scobys to start and other batch using kombucha from bath 2 as the starter. New teas again but only sugar this time.

Still need to find out what to do with all those extra scobys I'll have in another week. It's like kefir. The more you brew the more of the things you get. will try to find some other foreigners that might be interested in trying kombucha.

Donna said...

Thank you so much for sharing your success!

That is so neat to hear that you have lived in so many places and are so far away, yet know about kombucha!

Would love to know what you do with those extra scobys too. Some people compost them, others sell them on ebay. I'm thinking science and looking at them under a nice microscope would be fun too :)

They store for a short while in the refrigerator.

Happy culturing- and thanks again for sharing your kombucha adventures! Would love to hear back from you if you try more flavors, etc. (Some flavor with fruits and juices.)


Geert Anthonis said...

Hi Donna,

There is so much to read and so many different things one can do. Made the first batch of all green tea kombucha. Have tried all honey. That worked fine, but that was only one batch.

Once I get good bottles I plan to make more fizzy kombucha.

At the moment I give away the extras and what I can't give away I put in my smoothies. Someone mentioned they are very good in compost. Worms love them. I try to breed snail and might dry them a little and see if the snail love them.

Also read they make good ointments to treat the skin might try that on my wife's exzema.

That are just some suggestions.

Happy brewing,

Geert Anthonis,
Kaohsiung, Taiwan

girl said...

Great post and great comments! I am so excited to start growing and brewing. Thank you all! On a side note: Bergamot is a VERY acidic, somewhat aggressive citrus oil. Yummy as well as therapeutic and even disinfecting for many uses, including killing fungi and bacteria. Unfortunately, bergamot doesn't know the difference between good spores and bad and is really good at 'cleaning' them all up. Not good for kombucha! Happy brewing. ��