Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Kombucha

Kombucha 102

After a week of letting my first batch of Kombucha ferment, it was time to move to phase 2 fermentation. I was a little apprehensive and intimidated by the scoby growing in the jar. I looked up pictures online to verify my scoby was healthy and not moldy. From the imagines I found, I was satisfied my scoby was healthy.

The only thing preventing me from moving on to phase 2 was finding the courage to taste the kombucha. Oh, boy. I was expecting the worst. I summed all my courage and steeled my stomach for a straw size siphon. I was pleasantly surprised. The kombucha actually tasted palatable. It tasted like sweet tea mixed with a little vinegar. The longer the kombucha remains in phase 1 fermentation, the stronger the vinegar taste. I decided to go with a sweeter flavor for my first batch. I prepped my laboratory (kitchen) work space and began the canning process for phase 2 fermentation.

I used frozen strawberries to flavor the kombucha. I mixed the frozen strawberries with a little hot water and then puréed them in the food processor. I added about 2 tablespoons to each mason jar. I saved a mason jar of tea so I could prepare another batch of kombucha phase 1. Meanwhile, I’ll let my four jars of strawberry kombucha set for 2-4 days. After that time, they should be ready to strain, refrigerate, and enjoy.

My fingers are crossed they kombucha is delicious!

Kombucha 101

One thing I’ve learned from my English students about the secret to a long life is to keep learning – it keeps your mind sharp. That’s why at 60+ years old, a couple are in their 80s, they are learning how to improve their English conversion. They were my inspiration to attend a Kombucha 101 brewing class in Tokyo.

Sonia found the course online through Best Living Japan and invited me to go with her. Sure! Why not? And by the way, what’s Kombucha?

Directly translated in Japanese, kombu means seaweed and cha means tea. However, that is definitely not kombucha. Kombucha is a detoxifier and a probiotic.

The drink has become very popular in the U.S. over the past few years. When prepared correctly, kombucha is a healthy and delicious beverage. It is said to improve your energy and intestinal health.

The drink is made using sweetened tea that has been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). The SCOBY looks pretty gross. Here our sensei was cutting pieces of SCOBY into each of our starter teas.

I was a bit intimidated as I watched and listened to our sensei walk us through the process of preparing the kombucha.

The first phase requires you to brew the sweetened tea and add the starter tea and SCOBY. They are put together in a large glass container, covered with a cloth, and left to ferment for 7-10 days.

The second phase is when the fruit juice is added to the fermented tea. The fruit adds flavor and carbonation. The tea from phase one is strained, the SCOBY removed, and about two cups of tea are reserved as starter tea for the next batch. For each jar of tea, 10-20% is fruit juice and 80-90% is fermented tea. The jars are sealed and allowed to sit at room temperature for 2-4 days. After that time, the kombucha can be refrigerated and enjoyed within the next 7 days.

As part of the class, each student was given a jar with starter tea and a piece of SCOBY. This would allow us to make our own initial batch.

On the way home from Tokyo, Sonia and I stopped in Yokohama at the Daiso. We needed larger glass containers for the fermenting process and elastic to keep the towel covering the jar in place. I had plenty of sugar and oolong tea to make my sweetened tea.

After brewing my tea, I let it set until it cooled. I didn’t want to scald my SCOBY. Once the tea was cool, I mixed them into my new glass pitcher. I added my cover and will check back in 7-10 days.

I’m genuinely curious as to how this will work out. I think I’m going to make strawberry flavored kombucha for my first batch. The strawberries will add desirable sweetness and adequate carbonation. Perhaps, I will be more bold if the kombucha does indeed taste delicious. The two glasses we tried in class today were very good. She offered us guava and peach. A couple of my friends in America have told me about their brewing successes. If you have any tips to share, please let me know! I’ll keep you updated on my progress as the kombucha brews. Kanpie! Here’s to intestinal health.

PS. The other two things to a long life include taking a walk everyday and eating sushi.

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