Wednesday, April 6, 2011

KOMBUCHA TEA FOR ME!!!!!

Have you ever thought to yourself... I would love to start my own veggie garden, brew my own beer or hell make my own pasta but then the reality of the project is too terrifying to attempt?  

Yeah me too!!!

However, sometimes I am an impulse consumer and attempt projects on a whim.  All of the road races I have run and many many nail polishes have been purchased over the years on a whim and an insane notion that "hell that sounds easy"......

This very impulse hit me several weeks ago when I kept reading about home brewing your own Kombucha Tea online.  The tea is very tasty and has many health benefit claims attached to it (read Kombucha benefits here)

This fizzy pro-biotic tea is a hit amongst food bloggers and frequent visitors of Whole Foods Market alike.  (it pairs perfectly with a hot bar "to-go" dinner!!) The down side to this healthy carbonated elixir is the cost.  The average bottle costs anywhere from $2-4!  That can add up pretty quickly. 
so good but sooo expensive!!!

So the frugal lady in me thought: "hell, i can do that".  So I went online and ordered my very own starter kit.  To be honest, after I ordered I started to freak out!  

How was I going to brew my own fermenting tea?  

Where was I going to store it?  

Will the whole apartment smell?  

Am I going to get myself sick by drinking something that went bad? 

How would I know if it went bad?!

Welcome to my brain! 

So when my packaged arrived I was even more freaked out.  The bag containing the SCOBY (your starter "mushroom") had leaked a bit and it reeked of vinegar. 

Did I mention I had it delivered to work?! (you can imagine the questions I got from reception when a leaky box reeking of vinegar came addressed to me). 

Yup its for me, no its not poisonous...I am going to attempt to make tea, yes I know it smells....
Yes it is actually drinkable and good for you... STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT......
Ok so maybe some of that was in my head but it was still awkward......

When I got everything home, I waited a few days to work up the courage and I knew my roommate would be out of town.  She puts up with a lot of my experiments, so I thought I would spare her one that smelled of old wine barrels!

I don't have any pictures of this first stage, because honestly even as I was making it I had already convinced myself that it would end badly..... 

But you know what.....  IT DIDN'T!!!

A little over 2 weeks of mixing my sweet tea mixture with the provided mushroom, this girl had a perfectly fermented jar of Kombucha Tea with the prettiest "mother" mushroom starter to show for it!

Yeah, this is my mushroom!  So happy & healthy!!!
I strained the tea and reserved the mushroom and about 2 cups of liquid to start my second batch.  The rest was ready to be bottled and flavored. 
Strained TEA!!!!
Being a bit worried that my first batch might be a bit too sour I purchased some organic Dark Cherry Juice to jazz up the flavor and give my kombucha bacteria a little sugar rush to help with carbonation in the bottle.

I put the cherry juice in my Ball Mason Jars first and then filled them to the top with tea.  ( I snagged these jars at BB&Beyond for around $10.  Seal-able, Glass and Reusable!!  SWEET!

My first batch harvested 5 jars of tea (aprox 16oz each). Not bad for someone who thought it was all going to get chucked in the first place.
Not jelly... but tea!!!!
Instead of storing the "mother mushroom" I instantly got to brewing a second batch of sweet tea.  I think I am going to go these pretty quickly and already plotting buying a bigger glass jar to make more tea (anyone have a 2-5 gallon glass jug they care to donate? haha)

All and all I am so pleased with this experiment.  The minimal $$ it took to start this process is a drop in the hat compared to what I would have spent on tea from the store.

If you have any questions about the specifics of brewing or where to get your own starter kit I HIGHLY suggest heading to KombuchaKampCom.  They are amazing, answer any questions you have and always ensure that you are getting fresh organic products!

Side note, I was not paid or given any incentives to promote Kombucha Kamp, this was based on my own experience with them and my opinions.
Can you see the happy pro-biotics hanging out?