Kombucha- glorified overpriced vinegar or ancient magical elixir? Whatever your opinion, this fermented tea has proliferated on the shelves everywhere recently, so somebody’s drinkin’ it. It also costs from $4 to $6 here in NYC, which is completely and utterly absurd. If we weren’t so divorced from the process by which things are made, nobody would buy this shit, ever. Or rather, they would buy one bottle, and use it to start their own culture at home, which is what I did. In a way it feels like pirating or ripping off the kombucha company, except its not, in fact its simply stopping them from ripping you off. And, its incredibly simple too, although people like this guy would have it otherwise. You really don’t need any ‘fermentation expertise’ at all, just about 20 minutes and a large glass jar, 3C sugar, 10 black teabags, some cheesecloth.
- Step 1: Drop some cash on a bottle of GT’s Kombucha. And get the plain flavor, not the ‘Self Actualizing Strawberry Goddess Bliss Nectar’.
- Step 2: Brew some sweet, strong black tea. I used two french press pots full, about 5 teabags and 1 C sugar each. Let it cool to room temp.
- Step 3: Pour it into a large glass container with about 1/2C of your recently purchased kombucha. Make sure your container is clean and sterilized. Add another 4C purified water to get the volume up.
- Step 4: put some cheese cloth or other permeable membrane over the top, as the kombucha mushroom that you are cultivating respires oxygen. It also expires CO2, so if the container is sealed it may explode. Now all you have to do is cover it and wait. At this point I wrapped mine in a towel because I feel like I read somewhere that ultraviolet light hampers the mushroom’s ability to grow. Pretty soon you will see a translucent gelatinous skin forming on the top. This may take up to two weeks I know, its hard.
- Step 5: Wait a little more. Once you seen the ‘shroom growing it should skin over and take the shape of the container within another week or so. You may see some weird foam bubbles forming that may freak you out a little. Its fine, as long as you don’t see any mold. If the mushroom is strong and healthy enough it may overpower the mold, so don’t throw it out right at the first sign. Not quite sure why I am referring to it as a mushroom, since it is more like a symbiotic combination of bacterial and yeast, or SCOBY for short.
- Step 6: Imbibe. Pour off a little and make sure its ready, which is really a matter of taste. The longer it ferments the less sweet it will get. Let it ferment for too long and it will start to get pretty acidic.
You’ve now got about $50 worth of kombucha at current market value. It should have a pleasant fizz. You can pour it off into a separate jar and start over. This time the whole process will go much quicker.