“Making kombucha is so easy!” the whole world exclaimed, as I received my first SCOBY in 2016. Maybe half-assed booch is easy. You can let it sit and become the vinegar dressing you’ve always wanted. Good kombucha is hard to make.
Good kombucha requires tasting, testing different methods, second fermentations, and perfect timing – all of which I didn’t have time for in 2016. All of my batches turned out terrible. I kept them in the cupboard where we had constant ant infestations (like every single place I’ve ever lived in my life… except Prague, shout out to you, Europe). I don’t think the ants played a part in the taste test, but I do think my lack of effort did.
I worked super long hours and when I did have the time, I realized that I remade batches too late, that I didn’t have enough sugar or that I had too much. I had thought I followed the instructions as perfectly as I could, but one person’s perfect recipe is another’s disaster.
I liked the kombucha you could buy in stores so much more than my own and I didn’t like kombucha enough to keep making bad kombucha. I didn’t care that it was “so much cheaper.” It wasn’t worth my time. I stopped making kombucha, gave away a few SCOBYs growing in my SCOBY hotel, and I composted the rest. My booch brewing days were over…
…until a few years later aka now. New laws are in place in the USA keeping kombucha from being “so” naturally alcoholic. Naturally, kombucha has about 1-3% alcohol. My homemade booch has never produced any alcohol content, but it does happen and that’s part of the fermentation process. It’s not enough to get you drunk, unless you live in high altitude Utah and all of your beer is the same alcohol content (sorry, I still love you, Utah, but your beer is shit.) It’s totally safe for children, pets, salads, and whatever else you use kombucha for, but Puritanical, backwards-shifting USA says “No way! We can’t sell alcohol to someone under 21 years of age, even if it’s the smallest amount ever.”
This started the fall of store-bought kombucha, according to me. Any brand you purchase now will be so over-processed and sugary that it tastes like a sad juice. I don’t even know if probiotics can stand the processing process. It may not even have any benefits anymore! I don’t know why I should bother buying Kevita or Hmm (my former favorite brands) when they taste like freaking Caprisun. I’m not looking for a refreshing drink. I’m looking to balance my gut microbiome, ugh.
So I started making my own again. I told these secretive desires to my friend Gabe, who was also about to start his own kombucha. Weirdly, the best place to find a SCOBY is on Craigslist (seriously), but the only one I could find was an hour and a half away. Definitely not worth it. I waited for Gabe’s SCOBY to grow a friend.
Gabe’s SCOBY was a gift that came with a whole kombucha growing kit from this super fancy company. I’m usually pretty wary of stuff like this (especially since it’s so easy), but as it turned out, his SCOBY grew very fast. This tea concoction provided by the company was perfect for growth. I was given a pretty bomb SCOBY.
I just had my first batch recently and I don’t think I waited long enough. The kombucha was a bit too sugary for my taste. I waited 7 days. This time, I’ll wait a bit longer. I had also never tried flavoring kombucha. I flavored two of my bottles: 1 with hibiscus and the other with turmeric. The other two were kept plain. Shout out also to my grandmother who is somewhat of a pack rat when it comes to containers. She had an enormous empty pickle jar for me and it has worked extremely well.
I will provide pictures for my next batch, which will hopefully be less suck-ish. I’m using both mason jars and Grolsch bottles to seal in the carbonation. I’ll let you all know which works best, if the hibiscus one sucks (I’m pretty sure I added too many dry petals), and if my second experiment works out better. I think I’ll go for 14 days instead of 7. Here goes! Wish me luck.
Featured Photo Credit: Chips Online
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