Fun w/ a Scoby

A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of friendly Bacteria and Yeast) is used to make a fermented probiotic tea called Kombucha.

Some wwoofers I was in NC with for a few days this summer had recently learned to make the tea drink. It looks nasty but is actually really good and good for you.  After they’d left the farm, a lady in Burnsville held this free fermentation and probiotic workshop. So I went with the two new wwoofers who’d come up to farm, Jenny and Frank, and we learned a little more about fermentation and how to make sauerkraut.

So in San Diego I thought’d be fun to play around making something fermented. A friend of a neighbor back in SC just happens to be a raw chef here in SD and got me a Scoby to brew Kombucha. A lady named Ann at the Little Italy farmer’s market in SD gave me some good brewing tips and taste-tested my Kombucha after a few batches (I think the 3rd batch). Ann started brewing her own a few years ago and now sells it to local stores and to Whole Foods. She gave mine a 7.5 out of 10. I’ll take it. Also—I have yet to send anyone to the hospital from drinking it…so that’s good.

Here’s What to do With Your Scoby:

1. Grab a pot and bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Then stir in 1 cup sugar or agave nectar.  Add 4-6 tea (green, black, or a mixture of both) bags and let ’em chill out in your hot water for 10-15 minutes.

2. Let your tea cool and then pour it into a large mouth container or jar with your Scoby and 1/2 a cup to 1 cup of Kombucha from your last batch (If it’s your first batch then hopefully the person who gave you the Scoby left it in some liquid to get you started). It’s easiest to brew your tea just before bed, let it cool overnight, and then add it in the morning. The tea has to be cooled because heat could kill your culture.

3. Secure cheesecloth or a clean old Tshirt across the top of your large jar.

4. Put your jar in a dark place that still has air circulation. A small closet is okay as long as the closet door is kept open and air circulates.

5. Let it sit there for about 7-10 days and then taste test it. The cooler your climate, the longer it takes.  It should taste vinegery and a little sweet.

6. Bottle it. You can buy bottles online or buy a case of screw-capped beer and boil them after drinking. Some people bottle their Kombucha on day 7 and then leave the bottles out to ferment for a few more days before putting them in the fridge.  Some people let their Kombucha ferment a little longer in the large jar instead and then refrigerate the Kombucha immediately after bottling.

7. Drink it!

My best batch happened with agave nectar instead of sugar, letting it ferment for 11 days in the large jar, and refrigerating immediately after bottling.

Making Kombucha is easy fun and So Much Cheaper than buying it at the grocery store. Also, as the Scoby multiplies, it makes little Scoby babies that then grow into larger Scobys overtime. You can give the new ones away for others to brew their own Kombucha (kind of like a bread starter), or it’s really good in compost. Supposedly it can also be blended up and used as a face mask :-/…not sure about that.


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