Kombucha

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  • 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.