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  • The Fourth Brew: Hibiscus+ Grapefruit & Chamomile + Turmeric

    Moving onto the fourth batch! The gallon brewing process has been working really well for me, and the SCOBYs are multiplying (insert 1950s horror movie music). The warming temperatures are making it easier to keep temperatures regular without using our electric heat, and...I have a new source of knowledge and inspiration! I was gifted a (signed!!!!) copy of The Big Book of Kombucha, written by the founders of Kombucha Kamp, Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, and WOW! What an awesome compilation of everything a homebrewer would need to know about getting started, brewing, maintenance, and what to do with all those extra SCOBYs as your brewing process continues. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious or already a homebrewer of kombucha. I had the pleasure of seeing Hannah and Alex, along with the talented founders and brewers of Karma Kombucha and NessAlla Kombucha, teach a kombucha homebrewing class at the Good Food Festival (the one I went to back in March in Chicago). And yeah, saying that Hannah (and the rest of the bunch!) is passionate about brewing and kombucha as a whole is a complete understatement. What a fantastic community!

    So, obviously, I had to use some recipes from the book as inspiration for bottling my fourth batch. And, another exciting factor: I decided to split my SCOBY. It was getting to the 1" thickness mark, and I decided it was time to start another gallon brewing vessel. As noted, my thrid batch fermented quickly, and no doubt the larger SCOBY culture with the warmer temperatures fueled the brew to ferment quickly. Eventually, I would like to keep a SCOBY hotel for back-up cultures, but for now I think managing 2 one-gallon brewing vessels is perfectly acceptable for our needs. I will report back with how these batches turn out next week, as well with what I decide to flavor them with! 



    My Fourth 'Booch Brew // Brew Date: April 11, 2016 // 

    Tea: Rishi Tea CompanyGolden Yunnan a total of 4 TB tea, brewed for 6 minutes

    Sugar: 1 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, purchased from Trader Joe's

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet

    Days Brewed: 8 days

    Temperature Notes: The average temperature, I would guess, would have been near to 80F. Our heat wasn't on nearly as much as the previous batches, but it is starting to be consistently warmer during the days here. 



    Second Fermentation: as with my first brew, I bottled into the same liter flip-top bottles, using a funnel, with all the tools I used cleaned in warm vinegar water. I got about 2 and 1/2 liters total, filling the bottles almost up to the top of the bottles, leaving very little headspace. Like the last batch, I reserved 2 cups of the top-most kombucha with the scoby for the next batch. Since my last batch was a touch sweet, I decided to let this batch brew for 8 days. The end result, likely due to the larger SCOBY and warming temperatures, was a bit sour but still absolutely drinkable. 

    pH at Bottling: 3.0

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I chose to follow two recipes out of The Big Book of Kombucha, modifying them for my 1 liter bottles. Overall, I was very happy with the results of these recipes. 

    Hibiscus-Grapefruit-Ginger Infusion // 1 liter // 

    • 4 TB 100% grapefruit juice (I used my reemer, and juiced an organic red grapefruit)
    • 2 tsp diced ginger root
    • 1/2 tsp hibiscus petals (got mine from the bulk tea/herb section at the Willy Street Coop)

    Chamomile-Turmeric Infusion // 1 liter //

    Simply add the ingredients to the bottles before adding kombucha. Tightly seal or close the flip-top lids, and allow the kombucha to sit in a warm, dark place. How long to allow the second fermentation to go is up to you! I let the bottles sit for 2 days to infuse with the flavorings, and then decided to strain out the infusion bits. Especially with the chamomile-turmeric flavor, the particulates were quite small and I didn't think picking those out as we drank the kombucha would be enjoyable. For this process, I used my funnel, and line it with my Zimtal numilk/sprouting bag (see picture below). This worked like a charm for filtering! But note: I probably removed some of the yeastie beasties in this process, but the bottles had no problem re-carbonating after straining. After this, we started to enjoy them, since they were already on the sour side during bottling. I allowed the bottles to sit on the counter for 1 whole day (warmer temperatures, noted!), and then moved them to the fridge since the kombucha was getting very fizzy (yes!). I suspect this was due to the high acid levels, as these can serve as food/substrate for the cultures in the brew. Since the bottles were moved to the fridge to "halt" futher carbonation and fermentation, I did not make a point to burp the bottles each day. Even with this step, the carbonation held very well while the bottles were stored in the fridge. Overall, these were my fizziest batches so far!

    We loved the hibiscus-grapefruit infusion: the color (I mean, come on! Pink!!!!), the floral notes and the slightly sour flavor of the hibiscus and citrus really played well with the sourness of this batch. Perfect by itself, over ice!The chamomile-turmeric blend was also very refreshing and summery. Something about German chamomile really takes me back to summers growing up (and it also reminds me of my grandma's dill pickles...weird, I know...), as it used to (well, it still does) grow wild around where we grew up. Also, that yellow color cannot be beat! Makes you happy just looking at it-am I right? 



    Filtering apparatus, with nutmilk bag (I still giggle when I say and/or read that...) (also note the mess I made on my counter on opening this bottle for straining...it was very, very fizzy)Ok, seriously...the colors of these batches were unreal. I think they seriously helped my mood this week.So fun!