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Kombucha Experiment

This is what I am experimenting with to see if I can grow a SCOBY. I am in no way affiliated with this brand of soda...but the root beer is interesting!

This is what I am experimenting with to see if I can grow a SCOBY. I am in no way affiliated with this brand of soda…but the root beer is interesting!

Kombucha…odd sounding. And when you hear the description, it’s gets kind of weird. So, you brew up some sweet tea, right? Okay, any good Southerner would be good with that. Then, you take something called a “SCOBY” (or affectionately referred to as the “mother”) and you chuck some of that in the tea. It looks like a slimey, spongy, white mass floating on the top of a previous batch of kombucha. SCOBY stands for “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria/Yeast”. Mmm MMM!!! So, then you cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band, let that ferment for a while, eating the sugar in the tea, and BOOM! You have a tangy, fermented tea drink with lots of healthy probiotics, like yogurt does, but even better! Are you still with me? Okay, then you start a new batch, throw your SCOBY in and put your Kombucha in clean jars in the fridge…or you can add a little more sugar and seal and let ferment at room temperature and you get kombucha soda! Here’s a Wikipedia link, if you want more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha

Disclaimer! There are some risks with fermented products. Please read the Wikipedia article and, especially if you have any ongoing health issues or possible medication interactions, please, please consult your doctor before making and consuming any fermented products! And always sanitize the crap out of EVERYTHING! Constantly!!! Okay, moving along….

I have to admit, I’m not a big tea drinker. Never really cared for iced tea. But green tea is pretty mild and I like experimenting with fermented things, so here we go! I found a “LIVE Soda” at a store today. This brand is a “raw, organic, kombucha soda and comes in a few flavors. I decided to try a root beer flavor. The bottle instructs you to not shake…besides spewing all over you…it would disturb the dregs that have settled on the bottom of the bottle. That’s what I’m going to use to attempt to generate my own SCOBY. I have read that using a bottled product is not usually successful because of some change that was made in much of the industry a few years ago; however, this brand doesn’t seem to have any additives and its raw/organic status gives me hope. If it doesn’t work, I can go to my local home brew shop and pick up a starter for $8 and salvage my experiment.

What I did was, I brewed 8 teabags of green tea in 3 cups of Culligan bottled water from the “hot” side of my dispenser. (You could bring water to a boil for 10 minutes to sanitize, if you don’t have a hot water spigot/bottled water dispenser and then add your teabags). Next, I added a cup of sugar to a sanitized 1 gallon carboy. A wide mouth gallon jar would be better for removing the SCOBY, but I didn’t have one. Anyway, I poured the hot tea onto the sugar in the carboy and then topped up to a little under a gallon, leaving room for the mother to grow. The cold water brought the temperature down to about 90F (checked with a sanitized pocket thermometer). I put some ice in a mixing bowl and added some cold tap water and put the carboy in the bring the temperature down, so I wouldn’t kill off the SCOBY critters.

Green tea, sugar...bring the temperature down.

Green tea, sugar…bring the temperature down.

Then, I poured off about 2/3 of the LIVE Soda into a glass to drink…the rest was then swirled to suspend the dregs in the remaining soda, and poured into the tea. I topped the jar with a piece of sanitized cheesecloth and a rubber band and now we wait to see if it works.

Let's see what happens!

Let’s see what happens!

It will probably be a month, give or take a week, to know if a SCOBY is going to form. If it does, the next batch should go faster.

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Day 125 July 4th! Brew Day! Saison!

Supplies for brewing today.

Supplies for brewing today.

After some glitches in finding what I needed to brew today and an unexpected trip to Raleigh, I finally got a late start on brewing today. This is what I brewed: Hi Nelson Saison    By FuzzyMittens Recipe specifics: Style: Saison Batch size: 5.0 gal OG: 1.076 FG: 1.000 Bitterness (IBU): 35.5 Color (SRM): 5.1 ABV: 7.5% (my calculator puts this at 9.98%) Grain/Sugars: 11.00 lb Pilsner (Belgian), 78.6%   (Had to substitute German) 1.00 lb Munich 6L, (German), 7.1% 1.00 lb Cane Sugar, 7.1% @ 10 minutes 0.50 lb Flaked Wheat, 3.6% 0.50 lb Flaked Oats, 3.6% Hops: 1.00 oz Nelson Sauvin (AA 13.0%, Pellet) 60 min, 35.5 IBU 0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin (AA 13.0%, Pellet) 0 min, 0.0 IBU 1.50 oz Nelson Sauvin (AA 13.0%, Pellet) dry hop Recipe Notes: Use Belle Saison yeast. Add tea to secondary. Tea is made with half pound of flowers steeped in half gallon of hot water. Mash @ 148 and boiled for 60. The brew went well today. I brewed in the BIAB method. (Brew in a Bag).

(BIAB) Brew in a bag

(BIAB) Brew in a bag

I did have to make a grain substitution, but they are VERY close, so it shouldn’t be a problem. This brew really gets interesting later, when it gets dry hopped with 1-1/2 oz of Nelson Sauvin and in secondary fermentation along with a tea made with dried hibiscus flowers.

Dried Hibiscus F;owers

Dried Hibiscus F;owers

After chilling the wort, I used my new little oxygen tank set up to oxygenate the wort for about two minutes. That should give a healthy yeast action and get fermentation started faster. I wound up with about 6 gallons of wort, but, after the trub and racking, it will likely be back to around 5 gallons. OG is 1.068; a little lower than target of 1.076, but I believe others brewing this recipe were in the same range. If the experience of others holds true in fermentation, the FG would be around 1.004; rather than 1.000 and that would result in an 8.4% ABV. That’s plenty! Looks like the original recipe may have incorrect numbers. OG of 1.076 and FG of 1.000 would be 9.98% ABV, not the 7.5% listed. 10:00 pm No action in the blow off, so I put a heating pad under the bucket on the lowest setting. The original brewer of this recipe talks about ramping the temp up to 90F for the first week, I think. This Belle Saison yeast is supposed to take off fast, especially with the oxygen boost I gave it. Hmmm.

By the way, I put the tepache outside and it is starting to get a little action in the airlock tonight.

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