• The Sixth Brew: Summery Infusions - Strawberry Lemonade + Spicy Ginger Brew

    Ok, so yeah, it is still spring. Still May. We still have a solid month and half for summer to arrive. But I might as well start practicing my summery 'booch infusions now, don't ya think?

    This batch was made from my newer scoby (affectionately referred to as Velma, as I am keeping a Scooby Doo-themed naming process for my SCOBY progeny). The batch brewed for 8 solid days in warm (likely 76-78F) cozy temperatures in our loft. I brewed this this batch with slightly less tea, although it still had great flavor and fizz factor right out of the gallon jar. 

    I think you know my process by now...if not, read any of the previous 5 posts I have done! The only different aspect of this brew was that I did not check pH with the litmus strips, but rather relied on my taste buds to declare the batch ready. I do need to pick up some more strips, but haven't gotten around to it...yet. 

    But at any rate, happy brewin' and boochin'!

    SCOBY: Newer Growth ("Velma")// Brew Date: April 25, 2016 // 

    Tea: a combination of Rishi Tea CompanyRuby Oolong a total of 3 level TB tea, brewed for 8 minutes, and also decided to steep room temperature filtered water with the tea leaves and use this for the fill water

    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, for both gallon brewing jars would have been near to 78F. 

    Starter Tea Notes: I used 2 cups of starter liquid from the previous batches, using the top-most kombucha from the gallon batches (used 1 cup from each gallon batch previously brewed)

    Second Fermentation: 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. I reserved 2 cups of the top-most kombucha with the SCOBY for the SCOBY hotel, and placed Velma in the hotel jar along with Scooby, as I decided to take a break from brewing since I was completely out of tea at this point. Both SCOBYs were in the hotel for about 1 week total before I strated to brew again (the seventh batches...more on those next week!). I let the bottles sit and infuse for 5 days before straining them as I did my two last infusions (with my funnel and nutmilk bag). This longer infusion process really got more flavors out, and produced a more acidic flavor, but I didn't really notice a higher fizz factor (but it was there and pleasantly gentle, nonetheless).

    pH at Bottling: Not 100% sure, but I'd guess probably 3.0

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I wanted to get summery! I used some inpsiration from the Big Book of Kombucha, and then also mish-mashed my love of ginger with spicy to make a spicy ginger infusion. Both flavors were spot-on, and in my opinion, are perfect for some fun mock/cocktails that I will share below. 

    Strawberry Lemonade // 1 liter // 

    • 4 TB strawberries, cut into small pieces (I used frozen berries)
    • 3 tsp lemon juice
    • 1/4 tsp lemon zest

    Lemonade season=Arnold Palmer season. I mixed equal parts lemonade with iced tea (got some of this black iced tea from Rishi, and brewed it up in the sun! Very tasty!), and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Super refreshing. This type of drink will for sure be on regular rotation in the hotter months for us!

    Spicy Ginger-Cayenne // 1 liter //

    • 3 tsp finely grated (used my microplane) organic ginger, skin and all
    • 1/8 tsp or small pinch powdered cayenne 

    As I enjoyed this brew, I thought it would make an AWESOME stand-in for a spicy ginger beer in the classic dark and stormy cocktail. I hope to try this out with my next batch...so stay tuned for this!

    Something about watching the color get sucked out of the strawberries was really satisfying....Aaaaand this Arnold Palmer-like number....was so, so good. I urge you to try it! You'll thank me in the dog days of summer!!

  • The Third Brew: Ginger Juice!

    The Third Brew! Ok, so I am little late on this-life has been a bit busy lately, which is cool-so I am due for an update here. I am still loving the homebrewing gig...it is so fulfilling, fun, and gratifying! After a long day, pouring myself a big glass of homemade kombucha and sitting on our deck has been really great this past week, now that the weather is starting to be more spirng-like here in Madison.

    For this third batch, I experimented with a thrid form of ginger: freshly juiced! In our juicer, I put in a large hunk of organic ginger that was washed briefly in a warm vinegar/water solution. I then thought it'd be a great idea to put a small organic lemon through the juicer, making a strong lemon-ginger juice to add to my bottles for the second fermentation of this batch. In addition, I added 1/2 tsp organic evaporated cane juice (aka: sugar) to see if that would help with the fizz levels. 

    Overall: the batch was very refreshing and had some great ginger-lemon flavors going on, but fizz-factor wasn't the best. The batch was a *touch* sweet, so perhaps the addition of the 1/2 tsp sugar was not needed, but hey...experimenting! In the end, the fizziest of the ginger infusions with how I brewed my 'booch was the grated ginger on a microplane. However, all three were extremely tasty, regardless of form of ginger!

    My Third 'Booch Brew // Brew Date: April 4, 2016 // 

    Tea: Rishi Tea CompanyGolden Yunnan using 3 TB tea, brewed for 6-7 minutes

    Sugar: 3/4 Cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, purchased from Trader Joe's

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet

    Days Brewed: 7 days

    Temperature Notes: As with the second batch, I would guess that the average temperature was around 78F for this thrid batch. The temperatures are getting warmer here, so I hope to use more natural heat rather than having our electric heaters running! I tasted at day 7, the brew was very flavorful, but a bit more sweet tasting (as reflected by the higher pH at bottling!), and just slightly carbonated. I could have let this batch go another day or two, but we were leaving for a few days so I wanted to bottle this stuff up!

    Second Fermentation: as with me previous brews, 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 those that were full, leaving very little headspace. Like the last batch, I reserved 2 cups of the top-most kombucha with the SCOBY for the next batch. 

    pH at Bottling: 3.5

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I chose to juice ginger and lemon as described above. I added 2 TB total in EACH liter bottle, along with 1/2 tsp organic evaporated cane juice, which as mentioned above was added to see if this would amp-up the fizz factor (and I can't say with certainty that it did-but was still tasty).

    Ginger-Lemon Juice Infusion // 1 liter // 

    • 2 TB of the lemon/ginger juice
    • 1/2 tsp organic evaporated cane juice (optional)

    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 total until I taste them again, and started to enjoy them. As with my first and second batches, I allowed the liters to sit at room temperature on my counter (out of direct sun light and drastic temperture changes) over the entire duraion of drinking them, and this was about 1 week total. I really enjoyed tasting them throughout the process to experience how the flavors changed. Since I was drinking the kombucha every day (about 8 to 12 oz per day), the bottles were burped (released of excess carbonation) in this process each day. I would say that burping your bottles once a day is a good idea to prevent explosions, as is not storing the bottles in a really warm location!Since this particular batch was a *touch* sweet, I found that the following mixers were a fun way to enjoy this batch!

    • 8oz ginger-lemon kombucha + 8oz Miller High Life (don't judge!) OR Heinekin Lite (also, don't judge-the flavors worked surprisingly well with BOTH of these affordable beers! But, I may do some more high-quality booch-and-beer pairings in the near future)
    • 8oz ginger-lemon kombucha + 8oz pure sparkling water + a few berries for fun garnish (picture below, on my ugly-yet-I-love-it-so-much retro chair)
    • 8oz ginger-lemon kombucha + 8oz pure sparkling water + 1/2 to 1 shot of Grey Goose Vodka/high quality vodka (unlike beer, I recommend using a high quality vodka...I rarely drink hard booze and mixed drinks, so when I do, it better be good. I am glad I *forced* myself to try it, and am happy to report it was an easy, tasty and fun drink for the warmer weather!)