Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Moldy Kombucha

I noticed a long time ago, I am usually pretty good at anything the first time I try it. The second time I try anything from baking to sports it usually goes pretty wrong. The third time I try something the outcome is usually better than the second time disaster, but still not as good as the first time. Maybe it's beginner's luck. Maybe it is attention to detail and the willingness to take things slowly. Whatever it is, there is often a lesson to be learned.

Now that I have brewed kombucha a couple of times, I have learned a couple of hard lessons.

FIRSTLY, home brewed kombucha ain't nothin' like store bought kombucha. I have read that a kombucha novice should work their way up in their consumption amount. They should start with a little and gradually increase their intake to the optimal 200ml per day (about a cup, or 8 ounces). That 8 oz should be drunk every day, preferably in the morning before any food has been consumed, for the maximum benefit. Unfortunately, I didn't read any of that until AFTER my first batch was already brewed. The first day it was ready I cracked open one of my six chilled bottles of kombucha and drank the whole thing. I figured that I have been drinking the stuff that I bought from the store for a while, so no biggie. And so I drank about a pint. It laid me out. I had to take a nap because I wasn't ready to handle 16 ounces of home brewed kombucha. Perhaps my 'booch was a little higher in natural alcohol content than the store bought varieties. You might remember that recent controversy over store bought kombucha. The brews in question had no alcohol when bottled but by the time it was consumed some bottles had developed enough alcohol to be considered an alcoholic beverage by the ATF. Yipes. Many kombucha companies began to reformulate rather than abide by the restrictions placed on alcoholic beverages, like only selling in liquor stores,etc. Kombucha is not an alcoholic beverage in the same way that beer or wine is. There are probiotics and amino acids galore. And the small amount of alcohol do not place the same strain on one's liver such as beer or wine do. And of course pasteurization defeats the purpose.

SECONDLY, clean out your vessel. Okay that sounds stupid. It actually was stupid, I can admit it. When I removed the first batch to bottle it, I was so concerned about removing the scoby and possibly destroying it that I just left it in there with a couple cups of already finished kombucha. Then I simply added fresh sweet tea. Within in a couple of days I had a nice new mushroom growing on top and a couple days after that that nice new mushroom had mold growing on it. Awesome. Batch number two went down the drain. I wanted to cry. It is a bit like finding that your whole garden has developed tomato blight or something equally destructive. I lost my crop. First I removed the mold and then strained out the tea. I didn't want the mold getting onto the scoby. I saved the scoby and a little of my undrunk tea from the first (unmoldy) batch and I have started a fresh batch. But who knows if I have enough healthy starter tea to brew an entire new batch? I suppose time will tell.

THIRDLY, you must use fruit juice to get your home brewed kombucha to carbonate. I have no idea how GT's does it with no flavoring, because I couldn't do it. I let those dang bottles sit for a couple days in the cabinet that you see above. Oh well, I have some flavorings ready to go once I have a usable batch ready....

*Sigh* In life there are always so many lessons. I am ready for a more positive experience now. Or a batch of properly brewed kombucha. Whichever comes first.

1 comment:

  1. In order to get a good fizz without fruit you need to use bottles that have a very tight fitting cap. You can test your bottles buy filling them half full with water, tightening the cap as tight as you can and shake the water. If no water escapes it should be fine. Make sure when you fill the bottle with your Kombucha that it is as full to the top as you can get it.It's best when there is not air left in the bottle. I let mine sit for 7 days to get a nice fizz on it and then refrigerate it. My best bottles are Perrier bottles small and large. They caps tend to tighten up nice. I sometimes mix my finished Kombucha in a glass of Perrier (I like the lime one best) for a refreshing drink. A couple of other things: I have heard that some people have had their bottle explode. I've never experienced that. Also some people will add just a little sugar at bottling, I've tried it and it doesn't seem to make much difference. Good luck with your brew - brewing has changed my life!