Published on March 9th, 2013 | by Nick Coe0
Kombucha Home Brewing: Fermented Fitness
How would you like to be able to brew a tea of the Gods in the comfort of your own home that not only tastes amazing, but is a really powerful immune booster? Forget about those sugar drenched carb drinks you grab from the corner store before hitting up the gym, here’s an effervescent treat that you’re body will actually thank you for.
It’s been around since the days of ancient China and Japan. I’ll bet ninjas and samurais used to drink the stuff before going into battle. During the Qin Dynasty (221-206) people believed it was a magic elixir that could help people live forever. Like a probiotic foundation of youth.
The thing is, there are all kinds and varieties of the stuff. When it comes to the more branded types in stores, the taste is pretty universal – tangy, fruity, bubbly, with a truly addicting aftertaste. However, once you get into the underworld of home brewed Kombucha it’s a little different from batch to batch. Home brewers take it very seriously, just like fermented food in general.
Go Organic, Get Fermented
Fermentation is an absolutely astounding way to live a more healthy and sustainable life. There are fermented foods from all over the world, and the style and methodologies vary wildly from one region to the next. Well, other than the basics of fermentation.
The idea is to bring out some of the smallest creatures in the world, consume them, and then form a symbiotic relationship with them that heavily promotes human health. Furthermore, there is possibly no better carb drink available.
Most people think of alcohol, or honey mead when you mention the word, but in reality, fermentation can be applied to basically any vegetable, fruit, berries, or plant in general.
Here is a basic break down of how to ferment vegetables to magnify their health benefits:
- You’ll need some sort of chopper like a knife or slicer, but if you have a food processor, then it will be even easier.
- One ordinary household chopping board.
- If you’re going to use something like cabbage or carrots, you’ll need some sort of pounder so you can bring out more of the nutritious juices.
- A container for mashing and pounding.
- You need to get some unrefined sea salt, or, many people prefer ordinary pickling salt.
- Starter cultures, which can come prepackaged and ready to go, or you could use something like whey, or even kefir grains.
- Clean, filtered, or pre-boiled water to cleanse the veggies.
- Something to ferment the stuff in, like a glass jar, perhaps a crock.
Let’s Make Some Ferment
- The first thing you want to do is thoroughly wash your vegetables in the sterilized water. Don’t cook them, and don’t sterilize the vegetables themselves, because we want their natural bacteria. It’s an essential ingredient.
- Now, take your time and cut up your veggies, that is unless you’re using hot peppers, trust me.
- Once you have them all diced up, place them in your bowl and start breaking things down further with your hands. Squeeze and mash, and get out as much of the juice as you can. You can use the smasher or pounder as well. Whatever it takes.
- After that you slowly add your salt until you think it’s salty enough, but be liberal, because it won’t taste really salty at the end.
- Grab your starter culture, and mix it in thoroughly. You’re after even distribution. Once you’re satisfied, simply put the ingredients into the container you chose, and them weight them down. There are lots of things people use to do this, the point is to keep the veggies under the liquid.
- Now that they’re weighed down and under the juices, cover the container with cloth, which is most popular. This is to keep bugs and things out, but allows the gas to release over time rather than build up. Furthermore, this will limit the amount of oxygen that is getting to the mixture.
Here is where you’re personality comes in. You have decide by tasting and checking on it every day, when it’s just right for you. After that you can then move it into the refrigerator where you can store it for longer and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
That was really just a crash course, and there are so many other little things and details that you pick up during your fermentation journey, but I want to get to the Kombucha. Before I do, here is a short list of really popular things that most people wouldn’t suspect are fermented.
This one totally surprised me. It turns out that coffee beans can actually be fermented! You simply crush the beans up after picking them (this gets the pulpthe loosen up a bit), and then ferment. How long you let it sit, coupled with the method of roasting will determined how it ends up tasting. This varies all over the globe.
Did you know this stuff is fermented? Again, whether you’re in Peru or Paraguay the way bread makers use wild yeasts to compliment their climate creates different tastes. The sour taste of the bread actually comes from the fermentation process itself.
You probably knew that cheese is basically nothing more than sour milk. However, did you know that the reason there are so many different kinds of cheeses is because some of the beginning cultures from way back when have been handed down from generation to generation? We breed live bacteria and cultures for our benefit!
Strained with two really specific types of bacteria, yogurt is nothing more than milk. It’s an amazing source of protein, especially when you stay away from the stuff with artificial ingredients and make your own. Check out our series called, “Fitness Flavored Yogurt” where we show you how to make your own live culture yogurt at home.
It’s Kombucha Brewing Time
You’re more likely to see athletes and average housewives drinking this at the gym than ever before in America. Is it any wonder that this trend is happening right at a time when income disparity is reaching all time higher for many industrialized nations?
The masses need to turn back to old remedies and means of keeping themselves fit and healthy. Let’s get this started. Here’s what you are going to need:
- 3 1/2 quarts of filtered water is the best way to go.
- 1 cup of white sugar and you can basically choose whichever kind of sugar you like.
- 8 bags of regular black tea will work fine and these can be bought at pretty much any supermarket.
- If you don’t have your own 2 cups of starter tea, then just go grab a bottle from the store and make sure it’s unpasteurized with neutral flavor. That’s not hard, because Kombucha makers are awesome like that.
- 1 Scoby per jar
- A Stock pot
- 1 single gallon jar
- Bottles – people just love to drink this stuff in bottles, mainly because of some of the adverse effects of plastics.
Keep in mind that people add any number of things to this beginning canvas. It could be diced fruits, juice, other kinds of flavors, you name it. Take your time, and just absorb information as you learn about Kombucha. It’s addicting!
The first thing we want to do is create the tea base for our mixture. Get your water to a boil, then take it off the burner and add your sugar. Start stirring so that it dissolves nicely. After that you add your tea and let it just sit until the water has cooled off.
After it’s cool, remove the tea bags and try to strain out any loose tea leaves that may have snuck out. Now add your starter and smoothly stir it in.
Once everything is mixed together, you can then transfer the mixture into your gallon jar. Now gently grab your scoby and lay it on the top, this is a protective blanket that works wonders. Theories abound. Make sure your hands are clean whenever you handle a scoby. Cover the jar with cloth, apply a rubber band, and walk away.
The time is relative, but most people will suggest waiting between seven to ten days to allow fermentation to do its thing. The jar should be kept at room temperature, and try to keep it from receiving direct sunlight.
Here’s a tip from me to you: the more weird stuff you see in your Kombucha mixture the better. After seven days have passed, start tasting it and see what you think. When you feel it is sweet/tangy enough, then remove the scoby to use on your next batch.
Recycle That Scoby!
One batch simply won’t be enough, believe me on this one. Prepare another batch ready for your scoby so you can keep it alive and evolving. Remember to get more creative and add things as you go to your beginning mixture.
Gently put the scoby on a clean plate with clean hands. If it’s getting a bit thick, just use a sterilized knife and trim it down a little.
While you’re at it, measure out and get another starter tea for your best batch.
Let the Carbonation Begin
Bottles are the way to go. Put your fermented Kombucha into the bottles and leave about a good half inch to an inch on the top. Remember if you want, this is where you can add flavorings and little extra signature stuff.
Store at room temp again and out of the sun for about one to three more days, because this is where the corbonation magic comes from. Once it’s carbonated, put it in the fridge to stop the fermenting process, and then make sure you drink this stuff down within about a month. That’s all there is to beginning your health and fitness journey with home brewed Kombucha.
What’s a SCOBY?
This slightly nasty looking blob that floats on top of the fermenting tea is pretty weird. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Cool right? But where to get one?
I mean these things are called sacred mother scobys and handed from friend to friend and brewer to brewer. In doing this, you will basically then be able to make your own distinct batches of Kombucha. Here’s what you need to make a starter scoby:
- 1 bottle of store bought or hand me down organic (raw) Kombucha.
- 1 trusty glass jar
- 1 ordinary everyday kitchen towel
- 1 single cup of tea made at home with filtered or otherwise sterilized water.
You just pour the Kombucha and tea into your jar, and cover it with a towel. Most people use a rubber band to anchor the towel around the top of the jar.
That’s it ladies and gentlemen. After that you just kick back and wait for your first scoby to form. From that point forward you can tweak them and do whatever you want until you’ve created some hybrid Kombucha.
The world of probiotics and fermentation is deep and spread all over human culture. Kombucha became popular only in America only in the last fifteen years or so, mainly because of its strange but addicting taste, and health benefits.
Athletic culture these days is about taking charge of our health through self direction functional exercise, and a conscious food intake regimen. People want to get in-shape in new ways, and people want to be able to make their own healthy foods so they can be in more control of what goes into their mouths.
Kombucha brewing is a tip off point for many people, and soon they have jars of stuff fermenting all over their kitchen and in the coldest spots in their refrigerators. These are all good signs. Get started with your first batch today.