Brewing kombucha at home: growing my SCOBY

After years of obsession with the fermented tea drink we all know and love, Kombucha, I have started to brew my own batch at home. So far, my experience has been very positive and I decided I would share my process for those of you interested in trying it out yourself. Kombucha costs anywhere from $3.00-$6.00 in stores, so brewing at home is a fantastic money saving option, plus you control exactly what goes into it.

I will do a few separate posts as I do this process. This one will cover how to grow a SCOBY, the next will talk all about the first fermentation process and then I will talk about bottling for the second and final fermentation.

If you want more information on what Kombucha is and a little bit about it, check out my previous post.

The first step is to either grow a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), purchase one online or get one from someone. I am a member of a fantastic Facebook group of kombucha home brewers which is really where I learned everything I know. They are incredibly knowledgeable on brewing, what to look out for and even give some amazing flavor suggestions.

If you are wanting to get started with brewing, I highly suggest you become a member of the group. It’s also a great place to see if someone near you has a SCOBY to spare (and they grow like crazy, so there’s a good chance someone has some they want to get rid of).

I chose to grow my SCOBY at home for two reasons. A. It’s extremely easy and B. I knew exactly where it came from. I ended up growing it in an IKEA jar that my boyfriend had laying around from his cold brew coffee brewing and it worked great.

Here is how I grew my SCOBY:

Ingredients:

2 Cups of Water

4 Organic Green Tea Bags (you can use black or white tea instead)

1/2 Cup of White Sugar (some people use organic, that’s fine, I just used regular ol’ sugar)

1 Bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha

Recipe:

  1. Make sure your jar is clean, wash with warm soapy water, rinse very well. Then, do a second rinse with mostly water and about two tablespoons of vinegar to make sure it’s clean. Again, rinse well. Let dry completely.

  2. Bring two cups of filtered water to a boil, once it reaches the boil turn off the heat. Then, you will want to toss in your tea bags and let it steep for 15 minutes.

  3. When the 15 minutes is up, dissolve your sugar into the tea. If it isn’t completely dissolving, turn on the heat for just a few seconds while stirring until all the sugar is gone.

  4. Let the sweetened tea cool completely to room temperature. This will take a few hours.

  5. Once tea is cooled, pour in one bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha in your jar, followed by your room temperature sweetened tea mixture. Stir it up with a clean spoon.

  6. Cover with part of an old, clean t-shirt and secure around the top of the jar with a rubber band.

  7. Let the jar sit at room temperature, preferably in a dark spot like a pantry or closet for two weeks, undisturbed. You will start to see your SCOBY grow slowly over the two weeks.

  8. Once your SCOBY is grown, you can start your first fermentation.

 

*Note that room temperature, amounts/types of tea used, sugar content and more can mean a different brewing experience for everyone. You will learn what works well for you as you go.

Here are some pictures of the progress I had over the two weeks:

It’s very exciting to see how your SCOBY forms slowly each day! I hope you all give this a try, let me know in the comments if you have any questions or other methods that have worked for you.

-Emily


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Is This Week Over Yet?

Hello Everyone!

Today is only Thursday, somehow. Does anyone else feel like this week is absolutely dragging? Maybe it’s just me, but either way I am very excited for this weekend.

I started off my day with my favorite thing: a smoothie.

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I usually stick with my regular mango, peach and strawberry smoothie, but today I switched it up thanks to a trip to Whole Foods last night. I made a blueberry, blackberry and strawberry smoothie instead and it was a delicious change. It was a beautiful purple color too, and because I’m five inside, color matters!

Here is a super quick recipe for it:

1 Ripe Banana

1/2 Cup of Ice

3/4 Cup of Blueberry/Blackberry Frozen Fruit

1/2 Cup of Frozen Strawberries

3/4-1 Cup of Almond Milk (whatever is needed to get a thick, pureed consistency)

  1. Add everything to blender
  2. Blend
  3. Enjoy

From there, I had to study super hard for one of 4 math tests that will be given throughout this term (this was the 2nd one) and it stressed me out quite a bit. But, it is now over and all I can say is that I hope I did OKAY.

Then, I wandered around town, grabbed myself a nice green tea from DAVIDsTEA (if you haven’t yet.. CLICK HERE to check out my 2nd blog completely devoted to tea) and tried not to freeze to death. I walked around Barnes and Noble looking for some new stuff to read. I found stuff, but didn’t buy anything.

I was really just killing time (2 hours to be exact) because I am a commuter student and I have to be on our student radio station 2 days a week. So after my class, I had to wait for my 5:25 broadcast. It’s totally worth it, though, because I love being on air.

I then met up with my good friend Jasmine at Starbucks for a little business date. We are working on creating a collaboration blog currently! Our first post should be up and available within a few weeks (hint: our first post might deal with feminism). There will be plenty more on that coming up.

So, it feels good to finally be able to relax and have some time to myself.

Tomorrow is Friday, everyone, we did it.

Thanks for reading,

Emily

 

 

 

TEA WITH EMMY

Hey everyone,

I hope you are all having an actually fantastic week. I am, despite it being midterm week, but I really can’t wait for the weekend. The Super Bowl is happening on Sunday which means I get to see some great commercials, watch Beyonce slay us all and of course hear Gaga bless us with the National Anthem. These are all very important things in a young woman’s life. Other than the actual football playing, the Super Bowl is totally my thing.

So, through all the hectic-ness (not a word, I made it a word) of the past few weeks, I forgot to tell you guys that I have a 2nd blog! It’s primarily for my college course where we are forced to post a few times a week. I chose to make mine all about tea (obviously) and if you guys want to check it out click this: teawithemmy

I just put up a post entitled “Perfect Teas To Gift For Valentines Day” since I’m a crazy tea lady.

I have some pretty exciting posts coming up soon, so be on the lookout for those.

But, until next time,

Thank you guys for following and reading!

-Emily

Fall Tea Haul: Tasting + Review

I am a huge tea lover. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I can’t talk about it enough. Since I’ve had to give up coffee, I had to replace it with something.. and that something is warm, scrumptious flavored teas.

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Fall is the best time for pretty much everything (opinion), and tea is no exception. There is something so cozy about a hot cup tea on a crisp, cool fall night.

My boyfriend Tom and I have teamed up to give you a thorough review of 6 Fall teas from DAVIDsTEA. We made sure to only select ones that we would want to drink during the cold-weather months. We are both pretty skilled in tea tasting (according to us). We had a wonderful help from the super kind employees in picking out some flavors.

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There is a new Fall collection that they offered us to taste in store and they were all pretty great, but we decided to take home a few that we didn’t have the chance to try.

The six teas we decided to review are: Pumpkin Chai, Cranberry Orange Muffin, Honeycrisp Apple, Forever Nuts, Oh Canada! and Peanut Butter Cup.

So, we filled our mugs up and here we go:


Pumpkin Chai 

Tea Type: Chai (obviously)

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Like a fresh baked batch of pumpkin squares. Super strong scent that you can smell across the room.

Taste: A warm, cinnamon pumpkin flavor. This is super nice for Fall. It made us so warm and giggly. We laughed for about 20 minutes. This is Tom’s favorite Chai he’s had (that’s saying something). I’m a big fan of Chai tea, and this one certainly tickled my fancy. I’d suggest giving it a go.

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EMILY: 7/10

TOM: 6/10


Cranberry Orange Muffin

Tea Type: Herbal 

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Subtle cranberry, certainly more muffin. Calming.

Taste: You get an orangey taste all over the buds at first sip, but it then mellows out into a final cranberry taste. The smell was misleading with the strength of the muffin; we only got a slight muffin taste at the very end. Very good tea, we agreed this is one of the best. It’s good for pretty much all the time because of how mellow it is. Muffins you can always have (can’t say no to that!).

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EMILY: 7.5/10

TOM: 8.5/10


Honeycrisp Apple

Tea Type: Green

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Fruity and strong apple smell. Fresh outta the orchard.

Taste: If you love apple juice or cider, this is FOR YOU. I am a huge apple fan, so please note that this may be a little bias, and I could drink this all day everyday. It has a sweet, crisp deliciousness. Tom, however, was not a huge fan (he’s not big on apples). So, if you’re into those fall-time fruits, go grab yourself a cup of this.

**The only tea listed that contains caffeine

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EMILY: 8.5/10

TOM: 5/10


Forever Nuts

Tea Type: Herbal

Bestseller 

Smell: Straight up Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Taste: We were right, it tastes like liquified Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The balance of flavors is literally perfect. The cinnamon isn’t overpowering at all. This is probably the best one of the bunch. It is PERFECT for cooler weather. Super impressed. TRY IT.

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EMILY: 8.5/10

TOM: 8.5/10


Oh Canada!

Tea Type: Rooibos 

Rooibos Collection

Smell: Aunt Jemima syrup… mixed with butter.

Taste: Saves you a trip across the border, aye? Subtle, delicious maple syrup flavor. This is pretty grade A. It’s an interesting flavor explosion, but we decided that this wouldn’t be an everyday tea. It would be nice to have for once in a while, like when you’re sitting next to a fire.. or going to a pancake convention.

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EMILY: 7/10

TOM: 6.5/10


Peanut Butter Cup

Tea Type: Herbal

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Melted peanut butter…. nothing is better than that

Taste: Hugely disappointed by this one, especially with us both being pretty big Reese’s PB Cup fans. The entire taste is basically peanut.. virtually no ‘cup’ (aka chocolate) can be detected. If you are a peanut fanatic, definitely give it a try. It’s a little overpowering and rough.

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EMILY: 4/10

TOM: 4/10

OVERALL:

Super impressed with DAVIDsTEA. Every flavor was pretty good, and they have a super wide variety. Would definitely go back and try out more.

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Thanks so much for reading!

I hope you guys grab some tea to try for the upcoming season.

xoxo Emily + Tom

“Is Summer Over Yet?” — A Guide For Fall Lovers

You like summer, but only for a little while, and you just can’t wait for cooler, cozier temperatures and everything that fall has to offer. You look forward to dark lipsticks, halloween and sweaters. People don’t understand you when you start talking about Fall and it’s still August. You post pictures of fall leaves and dream in sepia tones. Does this person sound familiar? IT’S YOU. You are a Fall fanatic and no one can stop you.

Don’t worry, no judgement here. I am a through and through fall fiend. The cool, crisp air   and the leaves falling bring me pure joy. I stock up on my fall candles way earlier then a person should. I refuse to buy clothes until the fall lines come out at stores. Believe me.. I get it.

If you’re slowly dying and wishing this summer season were over, here are some things you can do to prepare and ease the pain:

Start Making A Fall Playlist 

The best way to build a playlist is slowly, over time, and right now you have plenty of it. Throw some of your past favorites on it and start listening for new and unheard music that you would love to add. (I always go for an indie/alternative mix for Fall.) If you’re in a store and hear a track you need, just google the lyrics and BOOM.. added to the list. Spotify is a great place to make your playlist or choose from one they already offer. They have an endless supply of artists and songs to choose from (except for Taylor Swift) and it’s only $5-10 dollars a month for Premium (worth it).

Prepare.. The.. Wardrobe..

This can be a difficult task if you’re on a student budget like I am. But, do not fear, the sales are here. Check the sale section and current promotions of each store through their website. With a new season approaching, stores will be shoving deals down our throats so keep your eyes open. If you start getting a few things now, you can gradually build up the wardrobe until you have enough to get you through the cold. Don’t be afraid of too much denim this year, either. It is EVERYWHERE.

Rose, Plum and Ruby, too.

Fall is an amazing time for lip color. You can rock a bold, crazy lip and nobody can say anything because it makes sense. If you can afford the higher end lipsticks, Bite Beauty has some amazing matte lipsticks in the Frozen Berries collection which you should definitely check out. If you stick with drugstore brands, you can’t go wrong with NYX matte lip creams.

Warm Up Your Bedroom

Pull a few extra fuzzy blankets out of the closet. Locate your heater. Have everything on deck for those chilly nights that you just wanna cozy up and watch Netflix. Hang up some twinkle lights (christmas lights work too) and use those as your primary light source.

Countdown to…

Pumpkin Spice Latte, girl. We still have a little over a month til it arrives, but it’s not too early to get excited. Even if you need to grab a decaf, do it. These things are truly great and take you from August to September in one sip. Another great option if the caffeine is too much to bear: Chai Tea Latte.

It’s Never Too Early To Bake

That’s right.. FOOD. If you’re a fan of the pumpkin, apple or cinnamon flavors, the Fall possibilities are endless. Make some delicious muffins, cookies, cake… just whatever your heart desires, basically. It’s always okay to have a cheat day if you’re worried about your figure. Grab a friend or your love and have a baking party.

*I’LL HAVE SOME RECIPES ON THE BLOG SOON*

Bright Little Flicker

The absolute holy mecca of Fall to me is CANDLES. If you share in the excitement and joy for Fall scents, they are already available at White Barn and Bath and Body Works. I just picked up Sweater Weather (one of my favorites) and it is too good. Autumn is nothing without a candle, no matter where it’s from. Fill your home with a warm, welcoming scent ASAP.

Sign Up Now For Exercise

Even if you don’t have any goals when it comes to improving your body, exercise is always a great thing. Now is the time to pick a gym, or even a workout class you would be more interested in, and sign up. Try to recruit a friend to join with you so you can have an instant workout buddy to harass. Keep your blood flowin’ when you can’t get outside for a few months.

September is almost here, so stay strong and push these last few weeks. If you’re going back to school, Fall will hit you in the face before you know it. We must stick together Fall Lovers! It’s never too early.