Kombucha

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Currently showing posts tagged Hibiscus

  • Rose, Cardamom, Hibiscus + Ginger Infusion

    2017. Time to move beyond 2016 (maybe 2015, too). It is my goal to keep this space updated with my adventures in kombucha, simple or complex. Because cultured food is our culture!

    So, I'll keep it short and sweet for this post: rose! cardamom! hibiscus! ginger! This infusion, made from a kombucha brewed with some unknown origins black tea (prettttty sure it was some "Black Tea" I picked up at Bushel & Pecks, to which according to the helpful people who work htere, is from Ancora Coffee & Tea in Madison). My proportions were the "usual suspects": 4 TB tea, 3/4 cup sugar, and enough water to bring the sweet tea up to about 4" below the top of my gallon brew jar. I allowed the tea to steep in water just off the boil for 5ish minutes (yep, going to track these things more diligently in 2017, promise!). The first ferment took foooorrreeeevvvveeerrrr because it was cold in my apartment. And I was basically living at my mom and dad's house for the holidays (because that is what you do when you decided to resign from your job a few days before Christmas...you know? Yep, that happened).

    Finally, after 12 days (think my SCOBY was playing a "12 days of Christmas" joke on me), my brew was ready to bottle and infuse. My stand-out infusion was a floral, herbal and spicy combination of dried organic rose petals, several smashed cardamom pods, a few large slices of organic ginger root, and two small pinches hibiscus flowers.After allowing the flavors to infuse for 4 days in my cold, cold apartment, I attempted to open the bottle to burp the beast and WOW. Kombucha....errrrrrywhere! To tame the fizzy fizzy frenzy, I placed the liter flip top in the fridge to simmah-down! After which I filtered through my Zimtal Nutmilk Bag (2 years strong this one is! Loving it for straining kombucha, nut and seed milks, and many other finely-strained items). I allowed the carbonation to build again for 1 day at room temperature, and...wow. This infusion will certainly appear again, but thinking with a green tea instead. I have a batch of Rishi Jade Oolong brewing right now, and hope to try this rose-forward infusion with this brew next. A great way to start the new year! I am 30-ish SCOBYs strong, have purchased another gallon brew jar, and am super excited to march into 2017, fermented tea in hand. Cheers (and seriously, if you are in the Madison/Beloit area, and want to brew kombucha, please reach out for a thriving SCOBY and tutorial).

  • The Seventh & Eighth & Ninth Brews: Rishi Black Iced Tea, Darjeeling & Matcha Madness

    So, time has gotten the better of my ability to stay up to date here! But I'll try my best to recap on my kombucha brewing adventures at home the past few weeks. The highlights...

    • I have had great success using this black iced tea blend from Rishi, and love that it is in a packet already! Easy to brew and great flavor overall, and produces a very tasty kombucha. I used this tea for my ninth batch, which is currently on the first fermenting as I type this! I used 1 packet of this tea, and just let it sit in the warm water after steeping in hot water for about 2 hours. Similarly, I used my newer growth SCOBY, Velma, to ferment the eighth batch for 8 days. I then went onto bottling and infusing for the second ferment (see below!)
    • I experimented with a Rishi Darjeeling 2nd flush tea for my seventh batch, and LOVED the results. If you are into drinking un-flavored kombucha, I would highly recoomend this variety. The taste was so interesting: notes of raisin, caramel, and a natural sweetness. I used a heaping 3 TB of tea, steeped for 12 minutes, for the batch in a gallon brewing jar.
    • Both SCOBYs are still going strong, although I do now notice a fizzier first ferment with the newer culture. I may have to retire Scooby, or just deal with the reduced fizz factor for another few batches, and separate the older growth in hopes for a more lively SCOBY.
    • I had a great deal of fun flavoring my seventh brew! I will include my infusion recipes below, along with some notes. In contrast, I was in quite a rush when I was deciding on flavorings for my eighth brew, so just threw in some peach slices to the liter flip top bottles. And honestly, the peach + darjeeling kombucha tea combination was quite tasty! I would say I added about 4 good hunks of peach to each liter flip top bottle...I know, not precise, but hey, I was in a hurry!
    • I am noticing that a longer first ferment, 7+ days, along with a 3 day infusion and another 2-3 day ferment after straining the infusion bits, all at room temperature, produces a lively, fizzy and pleasantly tart kombucha. However, this all depends on what type of tea and infusion things you add! Hibiscus, as wells fruits like pineapple, pear, melon and strawberry have been my fizziest contenders thus far. The key is to experiment, in my own opinion :) 
    • Random: my ninth brew was also a Darjeeling brew, using 2 heapted TB of the tea, and I only let this batch ferment for 6 days...this was for sure not long enough, so I ended up putting this batch into my SCOBY hotel where one of my SCOBYs is now resting (Scooby).
    • Random #2: need to get more pH test strips (litmus papers). Or, invest in another pH measuring device! If you have any suggestions, let me know :) Ooook! I hope you go all of that. I promise to be more organized for my tenth brew, and resume a more easy-to-follow format for the post :) 


    The Seventh Brew Infusions, all for a 1 liter flip-top bottle, and all were allowed to infuse for a total of 3 days, after which they were strained using my Zimtal nutmilk bag in a funnel for easy transferring (see this post for a visual of this!):

    Matcha Melon

    • 1/4 tsp Rishi teahouse matcha
    • 4 TB finely chopped canteloupe melon
    • 1/4 tsp freshly squeezed organic lemon juice

    Notes: be sure to SIFT the matcha! I did not, and it clumped. I did manage to de-clump by using a small spoon, pressing the clumps out in the bottle from the top, but this was a pain. The flavor of this was super interesting: green/grassy from the matcha, and musky/sweet from the melon. 

    Pineapple Hibiscus:

    • 1/4 cup freshly diced pineapple
    • 2 TB pineapple juice, from chopping the pineapple
    • 2 tsp hibiscus flowers

    Notes: this flavor was super fizzy, and overally very balanced! Sweet, tart and the color was pretty amazing as well.

    Strawberry Rhubarb

    • 4 TB chopped strawberries, using frozen berries I picked last summer, slightly thawed at room temp
    • 2 TB rhubarb compote, made using 2 cups organic rhubarb and 2 TB maple syrup, cooking until rhubarb was tender

    Notes: I really loved the tartness of this flavor, and the fizz factor was good too. Was really tasty mixed wtih iced tea!

    Pear + Lemon

    • 4 TB organic chopped pear
    • 2 tsp organic lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp organic lemon zest

    Notes: a slightly sweet, floral and lemony flavor...with a good amount of fizz. Was great to drink over ice!

    Vanilla-Coffee-Cacao (this was for a small 12oz liter flip top bottle, as an experiment!)

    Notes: do not repeat this flavor! Was not good....a very funky, musky, bad coffee flavor...but good try! :) 



  • The Fifth Brew: Splitting the SCOBY + Fun Infusions

    So, two gallons of kombucha is a LOT of kombucha for one person! I mean, I am not complaining at all, but merely saying this: if you love kombucha, you should seriously consider brewing your own. It is so fulfilling, and how cool is watching your SCOBYs regenerate? Mind. Blown.

    Speaking of, my SCOBY was to the point where it was large enough to split. Generally, I have read that when a SCOBY reaches 1" thickness (for the gallon brewing method), it is time to split it. For me, this took 4 batches kombucha, but may be different for you and your SCOBY. To separate, I simply peeled apart the layers, which gave me two SCOBYs: one with more older growth (from my original SCOBY), and the newer growth. Immediately after separating, I brewed with both my older and new SCOBYs to produce 2 separate gallons of kombucha (I had to buy a new gallon brewing jar, and did so at the Wine and Hop Shop for about $6). While both batches were successful in reaching a pH of 3.0 after an 8 day brewing period, I did notice a few differences with the batches, but also note that I used two different teas to brew the batches. 

    The older SCOBY seemed to get carbonated at a slower rate, and I had to let the bottles that I infused with flavors for the second fermentation, sit on the counter at room temperature for two days longer to get the fizz levels to where I like them, as well as the acidic bite that I like. So overall, I let all the bottles infuse with flavors for 2 whole days before straining out the bits and pieces of fruits and spices. Then, I let the strained kombucha brewed with the newer SCOBY ferment in the bottles at room temperature for and additional 3 days, and the kobucha brewed with the older SCOBY sit for an additional 5 days in order to get the carbonation and flavor I like. I put the liters of kombucha in the fridge once the flavor and carbonation levels I was looking for were reached, and enjoyed them from there. 

    After brewing these batches, I decided to create a SCOBY "hotel" with 2 cups of freshly brewed kombucha from the top of the gallon brewing jar, and the older SCOBY used to brew the batch, and only brew with the newer SCOBY for the next gallon batch. I did this mostly because I only had enough tea and sugar to brew one gallon, and want to see if allowing the older SCOBY to "rest" for a week or two will allow it to come back to full force. We will see what happens with the 6th batches! 

    But to the fun stuff: I had a great time picking out the infusion flavors from around my spice rack and pantry for the two gallons that I brewed. I used the Big Book of Kombucha for inspiration, and also took a nod of inspiration from my favorite flavor from NessAlla (hisbiscus, ginger, cardamom).Infusions for the batch brewed with the older SCOBY (Scooby):

    • Ginger (chopped into small pieces)
    • Blueberry-Lavender-Lemon

    Infusions for the batch brewed with the newer SCOBY (Velma):

    • Tangerine-Cayenne
    • Hibiscus-Ginger-Cardamom

    All of these flavors were wonderful...but a word of caution about powdered herbs and spices: a small amount goes a LONG way! At first sip of my hibiscus-ginger-cardamom infusion, I thought I had gone overboard with a mere 1/8 tsp of powdered cardamom for a liter of kombucha, but the flavor seemed to calm down as the brew aged. Ditto with the tangerine cayenne: it was spicy...but I loved the spice with the carbonation. Additionally, the hibiscus-cardamom-ginger batch was super fizzy, relative to all the other batches. Maybe it is something with the hibiscus flowers? Either way, it was super tasty and pretty.And finally, a note about the teas used: the older SCOBY (Scooby) was used in a sweet tea made from Rishi's Ruby Oolong, and the nutty flavors were sublime. The newer SCOBY (Velma) was used in a sweet tea made from Rishi's Golden Yunan, as used previously in batches #3 and #4. I didn't choose these combinations for any particular reason, but can assume that both the age of the SCOBY and type of tea used to brew the kombucha likely had an influence on the course of the fermenation.

    At any rate, here are the recipes for the second ferment infusions! Cheers!



    My Fifth 'Booch Brews // Brew Date: April 18, 2016 // 

    SCOBY: Newer Growth ("Velma")

    Tea: Rishi Tea CompanyGolden Yunnan a total of 3 TB tea, brewed for 8 minutes

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

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet


    SCOBY: Older Growth ("Scooby")

    Tea: Rishi Tea CompanyRuby Oolong a total of 3 TB tea, brewed for 8 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, for both gallon brewing jars would have been near to 80F. 



    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 4 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 next batch, and then 2 cups for the SCOBY hotel in which I placed the older SCOBY, Scooby.

    pH at Bottling: 3.0 for both gallons

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I chose to get inspiration from recipes out of The Big Book of Kombucha, modifying them for my 1 liter bottles, and also trying my hand at creating a flavor that I love from NessAlla Kombucha here in Madison. 

    Hibiscus-Ginger-Cardamom // 1 liter // 

    • 1/8 tsp powdered cardamom
    • 1 tsp diced organic ginger root
    • 2 tsp hibiscus petals (got mine from the bulk tea/herb section at the Willy Street Coop)

    Tangerine-Cayenne // 1 liter //

    • 4 TB freshly squeezed tangerine juice
    • 1/8 tsp or small pinch powdered cayenne 

    Note: this flavor paired really well with Corona and Lime! I snuck in some of this into a wedding we went to last weekend...smart move on my part! 

    Blueberry-Lavender-Lemon // 1 liter //

    • 1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries
    • 1/2 tsp dried lavender, food-grade (also go mine from the bulk tea/herb section at the Willy Street Coop)
    • 1 TB freshly squeezed organic lemon juice

    Ginger // 1 liter //

    • 2 heaped tsp chopped organic ginger

    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. For this process, I used my funnel, and line it with my Zimtal numilk/sprouting bag. After straining, I allowed the filtered liters of kombucha ferment at room temperature for the amount of time described above to attain the carbonation and acidic-flavors that I like, after which point I placed the liters in the fridge to slow fermentation.



    After a long run, an ice cold glass of kombucha! So darn refreshing.

  • 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!