* Please note that this blog remains up as a resource. However, this blog is currently on hiatus until further notice. For more information, please read this blog post. Thank you and happy kombucha brewing, drinking, and SCOBY trading! Lots of love. ~Annabelle *

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Kombucha Discoveries Around Town

One or two weeks ago I found myself at Cambridge Naturals- and I was very happy to find that they did not only have Katalyst Kombucha and GT's as I remembered. They had those two brands, Kombucha Wonder Drink, and High Country Kombucha Tea as well! And although it's hard to see in the picture- just like the Harvest Co-Op, Cambridge Naturals also sells Katalyst Kombucha in a 1/2 gallon jug! (The jugs are in the bottom right of the picture, partially obscured by the boxes).

Later on that week I was at the Harvest Co-Op, and made another good finding: Katalyst Kombucha now sells their kombucha tea in 16 oz resealable bottles! The only downside is that they used to sell 12 oz bottles of kombucha tea for $2. Now at the Harvest Co-Op, they sell 16 oz of kombucha tea for $2.79. $2.79 is still the cheapest price I've found for a 16 oz bottle of kombucha tea in the area, though, at regular price (I think)! And yay for reusable bottles!

Oh, and did I mention that GT's now uses plastic bottle caps for their kombucha tea? No more worries about rusty bottle caps->these bottles are also wonderfully reusable! Awesome. I've seen this brand for $3.49 regular price at Whole Foods and the Harvest Co-Op.

To top it off, I found another location that sells Kombucha Tea- Oh Naturale in Boston's North End (28 Parmenter St.). Oh Naturale is a small health foods store, and sells High Country Kombucha and GT's Kombucha Tea (you can see them in the picture in the bottom three rows). Unfortunately, Oh Naturale sells kombucha at the higher price of $3.99 per bottle.

So I am very happy to say that both the Harvest Co-Op and Cambridge Naturals are equally competitive locations for your Kombucha Oases if you live around Boston/Cambridge. (Something to keep in mind though is that Cambridge Naturals is in Porter Square, while the Harvest Co-Op is in Central Square and Jamaica Plain). Both stores sell all four brands of kombucha tea. However, I sadly did not compare the prices of kombucha tea for either of them, because apparently I was too occuppied with my other good finds. I also do not pay enough attention to the prices, because I find it hard to justify myself to buy kombucha tea when I brew it myself. But the next time I am in these shops, I will be on the lookout for good deals! :)

And if you haven't already, read more about other places in the area to buy kombucha tea in my old post.

For those of you who have Monday off, enjoy the long weekend!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Continuous Brewing Method - Part II - Advantages & Disadvantages

Hello everyone!

My apologies, but handing in job applications and seeing Michael Pollan (!!!) at the West Roxbury Branch Library got in the way of my posting the past few days.

I promised that I would talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of the continuous brewing method, so here it goes.

PROS of the Continuous Brewing Method
  • It's quick & easy
  • You have kombucha tea continuously on hand
  • Less/no sanitizing
  • Decreased bottling time
  • Decreased mold risk (SCOBY stays in brewing vessel)

    -Because you are drawing off how much KT you would like to drink/bottle each day, and because the SCOBY is constantly in the same container, the amount of time you need to sanitize the equipment/area is significantly less. This will save you time and decrease the chance that your SCOBY will become contaminated by mold (even though contamination by mold is rare, anyways- next post!).
  • Health Benefits
    -According to Happy Herbalist, the continuous brewing method produces the "fullest most complete range of beneficial nutrients available at any one time."
    -Kombucha researcher Mike Roussin indicated that some beneficial acids do not even appear until 14-21 days of fermentation (1).
However, there are several CONS to the Continuous Brewing Method.
  • The beverage dispensers that I found in stores had plastic and metal spigots, both materials of which can leach contaminants into the tea when they remain in contact with acid/kombucha tea. This is the very reason why I do not use the continuous brewing method (yet). But:

    -Maybe the continuous brewing vessels sold on kombucha websites are specifically designed to avoid this problem? (They are $, however).
    -Some people say to "pick your poison," plastic or metal.
    -*Potential solution!* - Someone at my last workshop had the idea of brewing kombucha tea in its normal container, and then using the continuous brewing method by just siphoning off the liquid from the top. What a great idea!! Hm...I may need to try that soon...
  • You won't be producing any more kombucha babies by this method, which may or may not be desirable. I also don't know how long SCOBYs live- some say 8 cycles, some say they last for months- it will depend on many factors. But case in point: kombucha mushrooms do not live forever.

If you would like to read another take on the Continuous Brewing Method, look here.

And remember- whether you decide to use the Continuous Brewing Method or brew the typical way, it all just depends on you and your lifestyle!

Happy Friday!!!


-Photos: http://www.happyherbalist.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=123 and http://getkombucha.com/porcelain.html

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kombucha Workshops + the Continuous Brewing Method (Part I)

Sorry for the late recap, but last week final exams hit. Thankfully, all my finals are over and I'm very excited for summer!!!

I would first like to thank everyone who attended my workshop at the 2009 Boston Skillshare on April 19th! I was very impressed with the turnout, and you were a great audience! Although Keith Person was not able to hold his workshop, I was happy to be able to give out some mushrooms for him! Thanks, Keith!

I would also like to touch on the Continuous Brewing Method that I mentioned at the workshop.

The Continuous Brewing Method is an extremely easy way to ferment kombucha tea!

It involves drinking/drawing off 10-20% of your KT brew daily, and then replacing the amount that you drank with sweet tea (every day, every other day, or every three days) (1).

-Every time you add the sweet tea:
  • You want to stir the brew to mix the old ferment with the new sweet tea, so the bacteria/yeast are distributed throughout.
  • Stirring will bring in more oxygen that the bacteria need to do their job.
  • Because you are disturbing the tea every time by stirring, no new babies will form. This is not a problem at all, unless you were looking to have extra SCOBYs on hand or if you wanted to give some SCOBYs away. If this is the case, you may want to use the traditional brewing method.

As an example, one recipe of Sweet Tea would be:
  • 1 quart (aka 4 cups) water
  • 2-3 tea bags (or around 1 tsp. or 3-5 g of loose leaf tea)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (around 70 g)
Reminder: the key is to do everything proportionally. You can make more/less sweet tea, and store extra sweet tea in the fridge for a few days so that you won't need to brew it everyday.

Also, please remember that your sweet tea and your brew/mushroom need to be at the SAME TEMPERATURE! Otherwise, you will be increasing the risk of your SCOBY getting a mold infection.

For the continuous brewing method, you will need:
  • A beverage dispenser- Happy Herbalist suggests that the amount of KT you drink daily should be 10-20% the size of your container. One way to obtain a beverage dispensor for continuous brewing is from online, such as from Happy Herbalist and getkombucha.com.

Sample Directions
  1. Boil the water- not for too long, because the bacteria need the oxygen that's in the water.
  2. Add the tea- steep for ~15 minutes or follow the tea's specific brewing instructions.
  3. Remove the tea bags/tea leaves.
  4. Add the sugar and mix until it is all dissolved.
  5. Let the sweet tea cool down to room temperature (such as by leaving it overnight).
  6. Draw off 10-20% of the fermented kombucha tea from your brewing container, and then add the sweet tea (which should be around the same amount of tea that you drew off).
  7. Stir the fermented tea and the sweet tea.
  8. Continue repeating these directions each day! :)
What's great is that the continuous brewing method is really simple and easy! Because you are starting with ~80-90% kombucha tea and ~10-20% sweet tea (vs. the other way around), your ferment is ready within ~24 hours (vs. being ready within 6-14 days). And you don't need to be exact, either- you can skip/overdo some days!

In order not to make this an overwhelming post, I will talk about some advantages and disadvantages of the continuous brewing method tomorrow!

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions!

-Photo: http://www.happyherbalist.com/continuous_brewing.htm