* 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, December 27, 2009

Kombucha's Going Mainstream

So I will start off with some good news that I feel that I really should have mentioned long ago- Whole Foods Brighton is now carrying Katalyst Kombucha! Typically I only find GT's brand at Whole Foods stores, so I am very excited about this new (and local) addition!

However, this is not the only recent addition to Whole Foods stores. I had heard the rumors, but was nevertheless still surprised when I found Honest Tea's Honest Kombucha at Whole Foods at the Charles River Plaza.

Yes, Honest Tea has joined the kombucha craze, and is selling three varieties of kombucha at Whole Foods stores: peach mango, berry hibiscus, and lemon ginger.

Don't worry, these bottles are glass, and not plastic.

Even though I brew my own kombucha, of course I had to try a bottle, which cost $3.49 each. I went for the lemon ginger, because I can never miss an opportunity to add more ginger to my life. My opinion: it was too sweet, lacked the vinegar-like taste of traditional kombucha, and was not very fizzy. An 8 oz. serving of Honest Kombucha has 7 g of sugar, compared to GT's 2-4 g sugar or Katalyst's 6 g of sugar per 8 oz. serving. The absent vinegar taste may be missed by some homebrewers, but this could also be a quality to convert that tentative friend. Fizziness is a matter of personal preference, and may be related to the fact that the bottle was not filled up to the top?.

While it's great that Honest Tea's introduction of Honest Kombucha will increase awareness about this drink, I still love the freshness of Katalyst Kombucha and how the taste is reminiscent of a homebrew. And as a local foodie, I am all for my local, independently owned companies. Ideally, though, homebrewing is the way to go for me. It's easy, inexpensive, and fun, gives you a much fresher and sometimes more healthful product, and allows you to tweak your kombucha to however you like it!

Honest Tea is 40% owned by Coca-Cola, and Coca-Cola is expected to buy the other 60% by the end of 2010.

However, Coca-Cola isn't the only large company that has joined the kombucha market.
What makes Honest Tea's launch bigger than some of the others is its introduction into Whole Foods, which has a large consumer base and more than 270 stores in North America and the U.K. Typically, I only see GT's at Whole Foods stores, and find other kombucha brands in small health-food stores, co-ops, and the like. Nevertheless, there is yet another fun kombucha addition possibly coming to a Whole Foods store near you: it's said that Townshend Tea's Brew Dr. Kombucha will be available on tap at select Whole Foods stores!

And speaking of kombucha on tap, thanks to the Boston Localvores for informing us that kombucha is also sold on tap at the Concord Food Coop in New Hampshire. Concord Food Coop, here I come!

Enjoy the holidays everyone!

Sources of information (and recommended articles):
Forbes: Kombucha: Can This 'Cure-All' Help Boost Beverage Sales?
World Tea News: Kombucha Not Just for Hippies, but Is It for You?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

End of Part 2 of Experiment 2! "Cutting the Kombucha Mother"

The cut kombucha mother again pulled through! After 9 days of fermentation at around 73.4 - 75.2 degrees Fahrenheit, this odd-looking fellow had developed.

So what I have failed to mention before is that sometimes, the new kombucha mushroom that forms is inseparable from the mother.

If this is the case, you can just continue brewing with the kombucha mother and baby mushroom together.

day 9

Although the new mushroom that formed this time does not have an even thickness and is not perfectly shaped because it is still attached to the cut kombucha mother, it still came out cream colored and fermented the 6 cups of kombucha very well!

day 7

day 5

The kombucha from the cut SCOBY had a pH of around 2.5-3.5, and it was very tasty and very comparable to the kombucha that was brewing alongside it with a whole SCOBY!

Overall Conclusions from Experiment 2:

  • Cut kombucha mushrooms can ferment various ranges of kombucha tea. (Here, a cut kombucha mother with an area of ~28 cm^2 was able to brew 1.5 and 6 cups of kombucha effectively).
  • Cut kombucha mothers (1) are able to grow whole mushrooms and (2) can grow into whole kombucha mushrooms, according to the size of the surface area of the brewing vessel (if the old and new SCOBY are inseparable)
A reminder as to why you would want to cut your kombucha mushroom:
  1. To increase your brewing capacity by brewing in more containers
  2. According to this thread, cutting SCOBY's instead of peeling them is better, because each SCOBY layer contains different organisms
  3. The most important reason of all: to share the joy of kombucha brewing with your fellow fermenters! :)