Kombucha, everyone is talking about it. You know that miracle fermented tea drink that does everything from helping you lose 10 pounds, cures GI stuff, and possibly even cancer! Ok I'm not making any health claims related to kombucha or 'buch as those that are aficionados fondly refer to there brew, but anecdotaly if you consult Google Kombucha can be linked to all sorts of health remedies.
What is Kombucha?
Let's start with the basics, kombucha is simply fermented tea that has been sweetened with sugar, it is fermented with yeast and bacteria - but the good kind. Like grape juice is fermented into wine, sweet tea is fermented into kombucha. Hmm, that doesn't sound as scary anymore right. You can find bottles of Kombucha all over the place now, you used to only be able to track down at your local Whole Foods, but it's definitely hitting the main stream. The other way to get it, one that is much more economical, is to make your own. It's not as hard as it sounds.
I have tried kombucha before and had it as a treat or novelty drink every once in a while. But was reintroduced to it at a company event last Fall from Amanda from Phickle who shared her love and knowledge of all things related to fermentation with us in a 45 minute mini lecture/taste test. She offered anyone there a SCOBY, which is the key component to making a good batch of 'buch - the secret to the ferment. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Community Of Bacteria and Yeast and it is the "thing" that turns your sweet tea into kombucha. The key to a good 'buch is the SCOBY so getting one from a friend that brews successfully is the best way - so for me getting one from a local Philly expert was a sign that this thing I had been considering trying for awhile was finally meant to be.
How to Brew
I am by no means an expert on this subject, I've joined a few facebook groups and have made a few batches, but am still a novice and sticking with the plain and simple stuff. I have found this info very helpful from the Phickle Kombucha FAQs. In addition to that I am not about the change my lifestyle to ferment tea in my house. Those of you that know me, know that we don't keep our house warm - we have the thermostats set around 60 most of the time. Kombucha does best warm, at a room temperature around 70-72. I asked this question in my fermentation lesson, and followed up with what if your house isn't that warm :) I learned that the SCOBY adapts to it's environment both what it is consuming (e.g., the tea and sugar sources) and the climate. If you have a strong, vibrant, diverse SCOBY to start the yeast and bacteria most suited to the cooler temperatures (in my case) will be the ones that survive and thrive. Now that I'm on my 6th or 7th batch I think I've got some hearty, cool weather SCOBy friends.
Since my house is cold, my ferments take longer. You can typically do one in a week (7 days); however, I let mine go 14 - 20 days and that has been working well. Also, I'm a little lazy and I d