Trying kombucha — and what the heck is a scoby?

Kombucha is a kind of fizzy, slightly fermented, sour tea. It’s supposed to have “probiotics” and all that other healthy stuff, but I don’t pay much attention to that. When I’m sick I go to the doctor.

I like making stuff and I wanted to try my hand at kombucha. First, because it’s crazy expensive in the store, second, because I don’t drink soda (and shouldn’t be drinking beer all the time), and third because … I just like doing that sort of thing. At least once.

scoby-300

My daughter bought me a copy of Emma Christensen’s True Brews, which is a good book to have around the house in case you want to try making anything weird like sake or kephir or … kombucha.

To make kombucha you need a scoby, which is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. That thing on the plate is the scoby I grew. Essentially it’s a big, gross, slippery fungusy thing that grows in your tea. If that’s over the top for you, don’t try kombucha.

You can buy a scoby from a store, or online, but of course I wanted to grow my own, so I bought a bottle of kombucha from the health food store and used that as a starter. It worked, but it took way longer than I expected. More than two months.

My plan is to make a couple batches of kombucha, but then I’m going to experiment. What would happen, for example, if you used a scoby to ferment a wort?

If you want to learn more about making kombucha at home, here’s a good page.

One thing for you homebrewers to note. The instructions say to use paper towels or cheese cloth to cover the fermenter. “Ah, so primitive,” I thought. I figured I’d improve things by using a fermentation lock.

That was a mistake. You actually need the air flow to make this work. The paper towels (or cheese cloth) are there to keep bugs and dust and cats and things out of your kombucha, but you need the wild bacteria and yeast that’s floating around your house.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 − five =

Post Navigation