Most people have something that they're willing to spend money on, even when they don't have money to spend: small vices--things that make us feel extravagant. Cigars, alcohol, chocolate, shoes. For me, it's kombucha. (I mean, I spend money I don't have on plenty of other things, too...usually cycling socks, cycling caps, and sunglasses). But kombucha is stupid expensive, and I buy it. On-tap, some of the cool new places in hip mountain towns charge more than $5 a glass! I rationalize it by reminding myself that I *don't* smoke cigars, drink alcohol, or care much at all about a shoe collection. Still, once I became the person buying the family-sized bottles of kombucha at Sprouts, I decided I should try my own hand at making it.
Back in the day, my mother made her own yogurt, so I figured I had it in me to do this. Some friends gave me a "scoby" (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) or "mother" and that's maybe the best gift I've ever received. The scoby is...super gross: slimy and unappealing to look at or imagine ingesting in any way. And it grows. But also, it's super amazing! When put in a broth of tea and sugar, it creates a delicious effervescent beverage that's claimed to help everything in the body, but at the very least just tastes good.
I've experimented quite a bit over the last 2 months. The first batch I tossed entirely. It was like pure vinegar. I hadn't put enough sugar in. The second batch was better but I didn't let it sit long enough before refrigerating, so it was mostly flat. But now it's getting good. I've been brewing 5 tea-bags of earl grey black tea with at least a half cup of white sugar. I let that sit for a day or two and then add it to the scoby. I test it with a straw after 10 days, but it can sit for up to 2 weeks. Then I add a little honey to individual bottles (recycled from purchased kombucha before I was in the brewing biz). I pour the 2-week-old concoction into the small bottles and let it chill. The earl grey and the honey work really well together. Next I'm going to start adding some fruits to the 2-week sit.
I'm making a gallon (or 6-8 small bottles) of kombucha for less than I was spending on one at the store. Which is nuts. I've also started making my own hummus in big batches. So...I guess it's clear that I live in Colorado is what I'm saying. And that now I can buy more cycling caps. Let me know if you have any tips for kombucha! I'm excited to try new ideas/flavors.